Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Your business generates data every day – even sending an email can be a logged data point! As owners and managers become more interested in how they can analyse and use their data to improve operations, it is worth reflecting on key considerations of a data strategy.
While there are many tools which offer enterprise grade dashboards, analytics and AI powered applications, in our experience, these rarely perform as expected. There are a number of hurdles which stop these exciting programs working to their full potential:
Poor data quality, collection and storage
Misunderstanding of the business data and use cases
Incorrect applications of analytics tools
There are also other considerations such as mature IT systems and internal talent and digital literacy within your organisation.
From experiences on a number transformation projects with our partner businesses, we have identified some tips which will help you make the most of your data. The crux is that simple and ‘boring’ processes must be understood and implemented before flashy dashboards and forecasts can be effective.
Pay attention to how your data is stored – is it in disparate spreadsheets or in purpose built systems such as a CRM or ERP? This will influence how easy it is to access and structure your data for analysis as well as connect systems together.
How good is your data quality – is it manually updated and prone to human error? Is it collected automatically? Is categorical data neatly categorised? Is each data series in a standardised format? Minimising the human cleaning of data at the analysis stage will save significant time and resource.
Think about what your data tells you and then think about what you would actually like to know to improve your business. Remember that the business dog should wag the data tail, not the other way round! Ultimately data should not be worked on for its own sake and the resource spent on analysis must be of use to improving your commercials.
Keep it simple – dashboards and visualisations are great but are easy to overcomplicate. Simple statistics and traditional KPIs can be more insightful than cutting edge machine learning and when improved with cleaner data inputs, can be very powerful indeed.
Good data governance should be part of business culture – your whole company generates data through BAU and therefore everyone should understand the importance of accuracy and disciplined data habits. This includes everything from keeping files logically organised to accurate record collection.
There are numerous ways to transform your business using the data you generate and it can be a powerful way to stride miles ahead of your competition. There are many other benefits too; for example, saving yourself time when collating data for prospective buyers conducting a due diligence process. Clean and understandable data instantly positions you as a professional and high quality business.