In 2015, data and analytics guru Bernard Marr said, "I firmly believe that big data and its implications will affect every single business—from Fortune 500 enterprises to mom and pop companies—and change how we do business, inside and out."
That was four years ago, and today Marr's statement could not be more true.
Solve Problems with Data
Likes, clicks, counts, views . . . you dream it, and the technology can track it.
In a world of limitless measurement, data is helping companies solve problems, see performance, and scrutinize the market. And while it's easier than ever to collect stats, knowing how to use this data can be a challenge.
Here are several markers to help you distinguish the forest from the trees.
Clearly Identify the Objective
Data seeks to support your business goals, so the best way to use data is to be precise in these objectives. For example:
- A retail business seeking to grow revenue will measure which products are selling most quickly and if they are understocked in this area.
- A sports team seeking to win more will use stats from individual players to analyze weaknesses.
- A marketing executive seeking to generate greater return will analyze conversions to find which ad placements are generating the best response.
To set clear, data-driven goals, ask yourself:
- What do I want to accomplish this quarter?
- What are the weak areas the business needs to address?
- What do I hope to achieve by gathering this data?
Outsource the Analytics
For many people, data shortage isn't the problem. It's time and expertise that are lacking.
Because it can be challenging to make sense of the data you've captured, sometimes the best option is to outsource. Perhaps there is someone on your team who can read, analyze, or interpret data for you. Maybe a team manager or an account representative could take ownership over their areas of expertise, and present information to your leadership in a simple, understandable way.
Your company may also benefit from third-party data providers like SAS, ClearStory Data, or Kissmetrics. Companies like these can work to combine your business's internal data with publicly available information to help you make better business decisions.
After assessing your data, you'll want to identify the information that will increase value in your day-to-day operations. Areas to consider include:
1. Sales Patterns or Emerging Trends
What is selling the best? What is selling the worst? What product categories are growing fastest?
2. Internal Procedures
How long does each task take, and how can it be done better? Who is driving output? Can we trust high performers with more responsibility?
3. Project Management
Are we on time? Which projects or areas should we prioritize?
4. Benchmarking Competition
What is my competitor's pricing? How do they market? Where do we fall short?
Save Time, Save Money
The market research firm IDC found that inefficiencies cost companies anywhere from 20-30% of their revenue each year.
Would you like 20% more money to use toward your business goals?
Armed with clear objectives and actionable data, your business can more efficiently market to customers, improve pain points, or streamline operations. The collection of actionable information is certainly worth your investment.
As they say, it's never a waste of time to stop and sharpen the ax.