The past year proved that in a world of fluctuating economic currencies, oil prices, and of course pandemics, the only stable commodity which continues to grow, not just in amount but value too, is undoubtedly data.
Since the start of the pandemic we have seen the world being run by numbers, case numbers, vaccine percentages, hospitalisations and more. Most countries around the world have plotted their path through the pandemic using data in a display of how successful wielding of data can lead to decision and action.
And while for some time now big businesses have been utilising data to drive decisions in the same way, it is pertinent for SMEs and the like to pay attention. This is because data finally reached a point that now assists small to medium enterprises to compete with their larger-than-life competitors.
Data is a powerful tool, and it is an asset to you and your organisation. While you may not think that you have the big data of multinationals, through evaluating and understanding the data you do have, you will know where to put your effort in the future.
Of course, data can be daunting, and thus we put together five tips to assist you in getting the most out of your data for now.
Quick tips to wield your data like a pro
The world’s best players, companies, and organisations are only defined as the best due to a comparison factor. There must be a form of measurement to evaluate the ability, potential or output for such a claim to be made.
For instance, we may claim that we have the best blog posts in the world, and while that may be true, we haven’t measured these blogs against any other, nor have the public weighed in to agree with us on this. So in that way, our claim here may fall flat as that target, and that measurement isn’t in place.
Similarly, your data requires some form of calculation and measurement.
Tip one, therefore, dictates that you should set KPIs (key performance indicators) and targets. You must know what you’re looking for within your data, and this can be anything from year-on-year comparisons to your progress projections and even your targets.
Once you know what you’re looking for in your haystack, it becomes a lot easier to sift through the contents.
The biggest problem with data is that you will find your information spread far and wide – it could be across various reports, multiple platforms, and on as many systems. You can’t be searching multiple haystacks in different locations to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. So, begin with combining your data in an easy-to-use way.
No, do not pop it all onto a spreadsheet. That is asking for trouble.
Once you’ve got your data all in one place, the next step is to define your analytical pathway. This simply means that you must be able to follow your data – it is that route of breadcrumbs on the path that leads you home.
So, for instance, if your KPI is either good or bad, how do you use your data to understand the performance?
Some questions to ask here:
· What caused this boost in productivity?
· Why were sales less this year than the last?
· Who is getting the most done in the least amount of time?
Of course, the questions can be endless, depending on what you want to know.
Remember that your data is currently a universe of potential. You need to break it down to a galactic level before turning that into a solar system and then to a planet, continent, country, and city. It may not even stop there, as by looking at the universe of your data as it is, you will never know which ‘city’ within your universe is cause for concern (for example).
It is all about segmenting your data into the right piles, or haystacks, to further that analogy.
Right, now that you’ve set a form of measurement, you’ve collated your data, and you’ve segmented it into the appropriate bundles you need to take a look at what it is saying.
Looking at grids of numbers is overwhelming and confusing You need to visualise it.
Whilst most people just want to jump right into their data to try and work out what it is saying, you don’t want to be looking at grids of numbers that are immensely hard to interpret when a chart easily shows you the results of your data in a fraction of the time.
So, this step is vital, as stated in our previous blog post about What is Data Visualisation.
Seeing your data in an aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-use and accessible manner saves time, effort and, most importantly, looks fabulous. In addition, it is a great way to showcase success and build morale and a simple way to find error and fault.
You need to visualise your data before we move on to automation.
We are glad you asked. You know all those human hours you spend going through your spreadsheets, downloading report extracts, evaluating whether your spreadsheet it still doing what you want? All of that is wasted time that you should be using for a host of other things.
You should be engaging with your customers directly. Recently, Elon Musk made headlines by responding to a Tweet about an issue with a client’s service. He tackled the problem and swiftly responded to that person regarding the matter. But, of course, the media loved the hands-on service by the CEO of a trillion-dollar company, and you, as a business owner or manager, should be doing the same.
Automating your data processing will speed up your data manipulation and churn out those reports you require without you needing to lift a finger, improve accuracy, and directly affect the actionable time. You could quickly diagnose issues in your business, staunch any irresponsible spending, or efficiently launch the best marketing solution without worrying about whether your calculations are correct, your books balance out, or whether you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.
Data is here to stay – and as big data now determines the future of our businesses, from customer purchasing patterns to sustainability, the power is in your hands.
You can get ahead of the curve and ensure that you’re a data guru by putting the steps above into practice.
If, however, you want the best for your business, and you’d be more comfortable leaving your data to experts, contact us for an obligation-free chat regarding the best solution for your specific data needs.
If we don’t personally set you in the right direction, we promise to point you the right way.