Thursday, October 1, 2020

Seeing Your Business’s Future Through Its Data.

January 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( If you pay attention to news about tech in business at all, then lately you will have undoubtedly noticed the trend that one particular kind of digital asset is becoming increasingly important. Businesses have always collected data of some kind, from asking directly for feedback to mailing surveys from door to door. However, digital technology has heightened the volume and the value of data. Let’s take a look at how you could use it to improve your business, as well as the best practices you should know about.

Data can help you grow your market

Amongst its many uses, one of the most common utilizations of data is its use in marketing analytics, offering a look at the stats on who you customers are, where they access your content from, and how you use that content. Marketing analytics are available in all kinds of tools, from Google Analytics to social media platforms to apps such as social media data aggregators. All of this data can help businesses understand who their customers really are, and develop the insights needed to create products, services, and processes that work better for them.

Data should be protected above all else

As well as looking at how data can help you, we’re also going to look at best practices you should think about if you ever plan on making use of serious amounts of data. The first and most important is to ensure your company is protected against the risk of a data breach. There have been several high profile data breaches, either resulting in major payouts or even the shuttering of the company that suffered it. Implementing a data protection policy in the business, investing in the right security software and services, and teaching your employees how to ensure they don’t leave their terminals open to unauthorized access are all key.

Data can help improve customer satisfaction

Just as data can help you learn more about who your customers are, how they find your business, and how they interact with it, it can also give you a good impression on how they really see the business and the brand. Customer satisfaction surveys can be as important as ever in seeing how effective your attempts to provide customer service are. In fact, now with the ability to send surveys immediately to customers online through things like live chat apps, they have become more important than ever. You can gain the data showing you where your customers’ pain points are in dealing with your products and services, and then publish content on how you have addressed and solved those pain points.

Data needs systems that are designed to house it

The more data you gather, the more your current systems are going to buckle under the demands of it. Not only will you run out of space to store it, but it will also become much harder to manage it. As well as considering using Cloud servers or a physical data center in the office, you should also look at using database tools to better manage the data. For instance, you could migrate to Azure, onboarding your data solutions to the Cloud to reduce your hardware burden at the same time that you’re making it easier to organize. This can make data much easier to access, especially in emergency situations.

Data can improve your marketing across the board

When it comes to increasing revenue and growing the business, data has perhaps become most useful in its ability to help us define the successes and failures of the marketing campaigns we invest in. No longer do we have to wait for the tangible results of marketing, such as an increase in customers, to know how well it is working. Marketing analytics tools give us a much better and more direct look at how many are seeing our content, how many are engaging with it, and how many are taking action after engaging with it. From advertising analytics to SEO, website analytics to heatmaps and conversion rate optimization, marketing data is helping businesses fine tune their marketing message to better appeal to their niche, or to broaden that appeal to many more people yet.

Data requires people who can read it

Gathering data is only one step in utilizing it effectively. Your business is going to require those who can make insights based on the data that’s being gathered, as well. These are what are known as data analysts, and it’s important to know what makes a good one. When looking for a data analyst, there are some traits in particular you should be trying to find. Attention-to-detail and a strategic perspective are most important of all, as they need to be able to notice trends in data from multiple sources and be able to apply them to solutions that can help the business. This can also require some creativity and curiosity. Great communication is needed as well, since your data analysts need to be able to report on what they found in the data in a way that you and other members of management can understand and implement.

Data can help you see the future (to some degree)

For as long as businesses have relied on sales projections, they have relied on data to get a better understanding of where they might be, financially, in the future. As such, they can make plans for investment based on those predictions, whether that means preparing to scale or pulling things back and cutting costs, depending on what that data says. To that end, sales forecasting software utilizes the sales data you have on hand, along with any other insights you can use, to produce a clearer picture of what might be coming to the business in the months ahead. This allows businesses to play it safer with investments and to capitalize on upcoming sales opportunities.

Data must be high quality

As the name “Big Data” implies, we’re able to gather more data than ever, from a wide range of sources. However, not all of it is going to be useful, clean, or reliable enough for our analysts to make sense of. Focusing on data quality is essential. For instance, you should be checking data regularly for inaccuracy, as outdated data can mess up your analytics. Data management software can help you purge old data. Similarly, training your data analysts to double-check any data is manually added is crucial, as human error can have its effect on your results as well.

Data helps with internal processes too

It’s important to know that you shouldn’t only use data to look outward, to how customers act and react, but you should consider using it to look inward at how the business works, as well. More businesses are using data to make their internal workflows and processes much more efficient and intelligent. By collating data from a range of sources into one centralized location, you can gain insights that you might not be able to gather otherwise. This is what’s most commonly called Big Data, and more and more businesses are starting to rely on it to help with their decision making processes. With Big Data, businesses can improve how they handle workloads and improve productivity, what they do with inventory, how they position their pricing, and much more.

Data can be visualized to make it easier to read

Your data analysts might be able to read data as easily as you can read an infographic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easily communicated to other people. If they start throwing datasets around to explain a certain strategy, it can confuse your team leaders and managers easily. However, there are data visualization tools that can represent that data in a way that’s much easier for the layman to understand. With tools like Power BI, your team can create visuals that present the data as graphs, charts, and other much easier to understand assets. Make sure your team is trained in visualizing data and that they understand the importance of being able to communicate it well.

Data requires backup

Effective security and managing your data burden well should help you prevent anything bad happening to it. However, you can protect against every eventuality. Should you lose your data, you’re going to need a data recovery program to get it back as soon as possible and to help your business get up and running again. The sooner you retrieve or restore your data, the sooner you can get the business back on its feet. A data recovery program may also necessitate plans revolving around how to announce any breaches to the public and how to handle the response in the press.

It’s wise not to underestimate just how much data can change the way that do and think about business, nor how important it is to establish a set of best practices. With the tips above, you should have a much better notion of how to use your data.

Staff Writer; William Parker

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