What Is Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM)?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about what data-driven decision-making is, its application across different industries, and careers that use DDDM.

[Featured Image] A group of marketers practice data-driven decision making during a business meeting.

When companies face an important decision, relying on the insights data provides rather than experience and intuition alone enables those in charge to make informed decisions that lead to better outcomes. Doing so allows you to reduce risk, develop specific, targeted business strategies, and identify areas for improvement, whether that be further developing a product or coming up with something entirely new to fill a void in the market.

Organizations today have more access to unprecedented, massive amounts of data. However, effectively utilizing this information requires access to quality data, skilled individuals who know how to turn the information into actionable insights, and employees who feel encouraged to make data-driven decisions.

Read more: What Is Data Analysis? (With Examples)

What is data-driven decision-making?

It’s a process of using data to make informed decisions. Often, proper implementation of the data-driven decision-making process ultimately leads to improvement both financially and in terms of the overall operational efficiency of a business.

Access to data alone isn’t enough. This process has several steps that you must follow to make the data usable. Not only do you need to clean and organize the data, which takes up a significant amount of time, but you also must ensure that the data you are analyzing is relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve. By using data-driven decision-making, your business or organization has the validation it needs to put a plan into place with confidence that it will succeed.

Applications for DDDM

Data-driven decision-making has applications across all industries. The growing volume of data collection comes with an increasing need for professionals like data analysts and data scientists. Check out a few examples of how you can apply data-driven decision-making in different industries.


Businesses can benefit from data-driven decision-making in several valuable ways. You can use data to better understand your customers' needs, helping to improve retention and satisfaction and developing marketing campaigns that reach your target audience. Data-driven decision-making also helps your organization’s bottom line by identifying opportunities to minimize costs and optimize profits. 

Health care

Data-driven decision-making in health care enables providers to optimize patient care in terms of treatment and overall experience. Using data in health care makes it possible for hospitals to find ways to reduce costs, and as a result, patients receive more affordable treatment. When it comes to treatment, access to data helps health care specialists more accurately identify diseases and improve preventative care for populations at risk from chronic conditions.


In education, teachers can use data-driven decision-making to improve student learning outcomes and develop lesson plans that will work best for students based on their current proficiencies and how they prefer to learn. You can effectively improve the performance of students by using data to identify the specific areas where they struggle and then implement strategies that address those individual weaknesses.

Pros and cons of data-driven decision-making

Data-driven decision-making is beneficial for businesses, helping you improve outcomes by developing strategies based on facts and concrete details. However, using data correctly leads to better results. If you are working with unreliable data, you could potentially end up with misleading results. Additionally, it’s possible that you end up focusing your attention on the wrong metrics or merely using the data to try to confirm an opinion you already have rather than looking at what the data truly suggests. 

Who uses data-driven decision-making?

You can pursue a number of different careers where data analysis is part of your responsibilities. Here are several careers where you can anticipate working with data.

Data scientist

Average annual US base salary: $129,750 [1]

As a data scientist, you take data from several sources, process, analyze, interpret, and then present your findings. This involves developing algorithms using programming skills with programming languages such as Python and R. Other important skills for data science include statistical analysis, machine learning, and data visualization.

Data analyst

Average annual US base salary: $76,983 [2]

Your work as a data analyst involves collecting data, finding trends within the data, and building reports to present your findings. Although this position is similar to that of a data scientist, with the two sharing some responsibilities, data analysts generally require less advanced programming skills, instead utilizing tools designed for business intelligence and analytics.

Data engineer

Average annual US base salary: $106,832 [3]

As a data engineer, you build and maintain the infrastructure that enables people, such as data scientists, to utilize the data within the database. In some cases, you may work directly with data scientists to develop data into easier-to-analyze forms. This position requires programming skills and knowledge of database administration and design. 

Digital marketer

Average annual US base salary: $60,460 [4]

As a digital marketer, you will help your company develop and implement marketing campaigns. This can involve analyzing data to ensure your marketing campaigns target the right audience, monitoring the performance of campaigns, and determining how to adjust campaigns as needed. Along with data analysis, valuable skills in digital marketing include search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) design. 

How to make decisions using DDDM

The data-driven decision-making process has several key steps to follow:

  • Understand the problem you are trying to solve. Keeping a particular goal in mind allows you to focus on collecting and analyzing relevant data from suitable sources. 

  • Organize the data. Before performing analysis, you must ensure you’re using clean, quality data that has undergone analysis to ensure it is complete and accurate. 

  • Perform the analysis. Once your data is ready, analyze your data using descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, or prescriptive analytics. These help you determine what happened, why it happened, what will happen next, and what actions you should take. 

  • Develop insights and conclusions. After performing the analysis, you should have answers for the problem you’re trying to solve, and you can now use that information to make data-driven decisions.

Learn more with Coursera.

On Coursera, you can find highly rated courses to learn more about data-driven decision-making and develop skills for relevant DDDM careers. Data-Driven Decision Making Specialization from the University of Buffalo will help you learn more about data analysis and visualization tools you can use, as well as how to improve the data collection process.

You might also consider earning a Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. By earning this certificate, you might qualify for positions such as data analyst or junior data analyst and learn how to use analytical tools such as R programming. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a data scientist make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/data-scientist-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm.” Accessed February 26, 2024.

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