Data has become fundamental to business, but while the potential of data has been known for decades, recent computing power and storage advancements have made this resource even more valuable. Data is used in all business decision-making aspects, including marketing, operations, finance, and human resources. Here’s how to successfully leverage a modern data strategy.
1. Identify the Data You Need
Whether a small business or a well-established company, the first step in your data strategy is figuring out what kind of data you need and how to access it. It would be best if you start by identifying what business challenges you are trying to solve and what information you can use to solve them.
Additionally, this step sets the tone for the rest of your project. If you identify the wrong problem or don’t have access to reliable or timely information, it will significantly damage your ability to fully leverage data for everything it’s worth.
2. Acquire Data Access
When it comes to data, reliability is paramount. You need to acquire the data you need in a reliable and timely manner. You can secure access with a combination of secured agreements and software tools such as databases and authentication servers with storage or archiving systems.
The ideal acquisition method will be both efficient and inexpensive. For example, your company’s human resources department already has an HR database that they’re using to help manage employee records. Some of this data could be useful for business decision-making, but many records in this system have little use or have been outdated for years due to changes in departments or job titles.
3. Consolidate and Summarize Your Data
Many companies have a sprawling array of data stored in disparate systems that you need to access to do work, making it difficult, if not impossible, for you to make decisions. In these cases, consolidating this data into one place may be the most effective approach.
For example, if your company collects customer information from multiple marketing channels (e.g., email, websites, etc.), you may be able to combine this information into one place by using software tools like Salesforce or other CRM systems. Another approach may be to store all this data within one system simply.
4. Process Your Data
Not all companies have the resources to hire a team of data scientists and software engineers, but if you are able to access external organizations that have the manpower to handle data processing for you, this is a good option. This approach can save your company time and money.
If you decide to take this route, it’s essential to make sure that you first understand what types of analysis are being performed on the data so that you both know what results will be produced and can verify that the results are correct. Sometimes, these third parties will provide informative visualizations of your data or conduct statistical tests, which will help identify potential problems or opportunities within your operation.
5. Analyze Your Data
Now comes the fun part. This is where you get to decide what your data will be used for. Once you have a better understanding of the opportunities with your data, this is the step where you plan to take advantage of these opportunities in your business decision-making process.
For example, suppose you’re able to identify that there is significant market demand for a product or service you never knew existed. In that case, you can use marketing collateral or additional advertising spending to market this product or service.
You will also want to monitor how these changes impact business outcomes and make adjustments as necessary to maximize results from future data analysis efforts. Your data strategy is an ongoing process requiring you to evaluate what works continually and doesn’t work in your business. A data strategy is a living document, and you’ll want to assess your data strategy constantly and whether you need to make adjustments.
In conclusion, a modern data strategy allows easy access, a reason to consolidate, a way to analyze, and a place to monitor your data. The above steps will enable modern companies to leverage their data more effectively than their predecessors.