lack of communication between analysts and their team is one thing. But a lack of communication between analysts and other departments can be an express ticket to ineffectiveness. That's because providing meaningful insight is nearly impossible without a clear understanding of business goals, recent initiatives, and other information that can affect the data.

Data tells all is a common perception, but true value from analytics comes from blending the who, what, when, where, how, and why—which can't happen without insight into the bigger picture.

What new channels or tactics is Marketing using? What site changes did the website team deploy? What products have been added for sale on the site? What are the website issues that Customer Service is dealing with, or what products are generating high returns? These bigger-picture elements can give an analyst context to understand the data, and the business knowledge to provide insight.

Analysts should be tightly integrated with other departments to provide true value. Here are four ways to improve communication across departments.

1. Get integrated

To work together effectively, teams need to be integrated, and analytics is no different. More often than not, people expect such integration to be organized by superiors, but that should not be the case. If you are an analyst, don't wait for someone else. Take the initiative. Befriend someone from another department. Start scheduling weekly or monthly lunches, or catch up with other departments in the morning over coffee. Doing so will allow you to get the inside scoop on what those departments are working on and to identify areas where analytics could add value.

You may even find you have complementary skills or work that can be brought together for added value. For example, while a digital analyst spends her day looking at data on website engagement, a customer service representative often fields the "your website isn't working!" calls. A wealth of qualitative information is available that, when paired with quantitative data, can help a business go from what to why.

2. Work in closer proximity

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image of Michele Kiss
Michele Kiss is a self-admitted analytics geek. She is director of digital analytics at Red Door Interactive, where she leads a team of analysts to produce actionable insights and recommendations to optimize clients' online initiatives. You can contact her via or follow her at @michelejkiss.