Data is being created at a rate never before seen, providing companies with the opportunity to drive better business intelligence. But gathering data is just the first step; finding useful insights from it is another matter. There is a wealth of business-related data available for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to work with these days. From website traffic to competitor analyses and social media, there are insights to be gained from lots of different sources. More data has been created in recent years than in the entire history of the human race. By 2020, the amount of digital information in existence is forecasted to add up to 44 zettabytes – that’s 44 trillion gigabytes – up from 4.4 zettabytes in 2014.
Using data to drive business intelligence
Hidden within this data are deep insights a company can use to drive its business forward. This includes trends in sales data that can be explored, and customer feedback from social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. This information can provide a business with a better understanding of what it’s doing right or wrong. Thanks to technological advances and falling prices, SMBs too can take advantage of these tools to extract key insights from data in a way they couldn’t do previously. Data analysis, for example, reveals purchasing behaviors and buying patterns, which can help a business target its customers with relevant offers and services at exactly the right time. Social networks, meanwhile, can be analyzed for comments related to products or services, using the feedback gathered to improve what’s offered. However, collecting all this data is just the first step a business should take. Converting that data into actionable insights is another challenge. Before a business even gets to that stage, there are a few other things to consider.
Plan how you want to use the data
Like any big project, the planning process is critical. According to Google, the four key aspects are: context, need, vision and outcome. What exactly does your business want from the project? Is there a specific need that can be addressed by using data? What kind of data will help you to achieve your aim and where can you get it from? What will the data look like once the project is finished? The key to any data analysis project is to begin with a clear goal in mind: a problem that needs to be addressed, an idea of what data needs to be mined for insights and a plan of action for when the data has been analyzed. Answering these simple questions will lead a business down the right path and help it to identify the right analytical tools and separate genuinely useful data from irrelevant information. Turning data into insights that can propel your business forward is more complicated than simply capturing the data, but the effort is worth it. Having a clearer idea of what is and isn’t working for your business is the best way to improve your decision-making process. Naturally, making better and using more informed business intelligence will help a company to improve revenue and profits.