An important trend business trend involves companies examining their data more closely, trying to figure out how to operate more efficiently, sell smarter and delight customers. It’s true – really insightful answers do lie in the data. But they can be difficult to find, to the extent that a lot of companies pass on making much of an effort. This is a mistake. The firm’s future, in part, rests with how well your data can be leveraged.
Try this: Picture the company’s most important data scattered in front of you. What if you were able to visualize unknown patterns and trends in it? Spot anomalies? Anticipate client behavior? Forecast more accurately? What if the data made this possible? How valuable could it be to your business?
Picture something else: An intelligent little “robot” that sifts through all the data, stitching together bits and pieces from sources such as:
- Website analytics data that logs visitor behavior and search terms entered
- CRM data with customer interaction details
- ERP or Project Management system data
- A multitude of ad-hoc Excel reports containing more customer detail
- Marketing data – which customers open email messages and click on links?
- Customer survey data – how customers are grading you
Now imagine drawing correlations between this different data, ones that are too complex for the human brain to make, but not for a technology tool. Answers will surface that never could before. Answers tied directly to better understanding customer behavior, lowering customer acquisition costs, driving customer loyalty, identifying your most profitable customers, discovering where to target sales & marketing efforts. Lots of interesting stuff.
The capability to analyze data in an advanced way has always been out of reach for most small & mid-sized businesses due to cost and the need for extensive IT support. That’s changing. Solutions are emerging which reduce technical complexity and cost, to the extent that organizations can affordably take more advantage of this vital but underused asset.
Many companies still treat data as a liability, which spells trouble in an increasingly data-driven world. Turning things around is not impossible. It’s becoming more feasible all the time. Here’s an approach we recommend to firms that want to do this:
- Start by examining your historical data to reveal past company performance.
- Next, compare the current situation in relation to the past.
- Then, apply conclusions about the past to the present in order to predict what is likely to happen in the future.
- Finally, make sure what you discover can be interpreted by the data “owners” in terms they understand. The best insight isn’t very valuable if it can’t be acted on.
The ultimate goal in leveraging your data is to predict outcomes more accurately. This cannot be accomplished without data analysis. The analysis enables decisions to be guided by facts, not just gut instinct alone. The result: Risk can be reduced. Profitability can increase. Customer relationships will strengthen. Even transforming the business becomes possible.