Look after your data and your data will look after you

August 6, 2019

No matter what type of organisation you run today, chances are that data – any sort of information that is machine-readable – is now the centre of your world. Above all, businesses all over the world use and leverage data to increase the distance between themselves and their less-informed peers, in the bid to become the frontrunner in winning customers and market share over their competitors.

The rationale behind inculcating a data-driven culture also helps companies overcome various obstacles that hinder them from offering the right product or service at the right time. Data is gaining importance because it helps businesses break away from the old ways of working by opening new avenues and opportunities through statistics and insights.

Without data, there would be no ‘hot commodity’ for organisations to use as one of their strategic business assets to get ahead. Its 1value and impact to the bottom line warrants not only appropriate management but regulation. So how can businesses look after their data, make the most sense of it and best manage it?

Data, the lifeblood of the business

Data refers to raw information– either structured or unstructured – that allows it to be captured and stored. There’s a plethora of information businesses are using to support strategy, decision making and customer targeting, and this is not just limited to consumer data. Rather, it is a combination of internal and external information including leads and opportunities, your employees, market segmentation, financials, social media, communications, supply chain and industry, just to name a few.

Interestingly, using business data to make informed decisions is a fairly recent phenomenon. The average business plans to invest SGD$2.3 million in preparing, analysing, and operationalising data over the next five years. This figure is nearly doubled from the current average amount invested, $1.1 million. With the increased investment, businesses could expect to benefit from a potential 547% return.[1]

Deriving insights from data is not as simple as extracting it. Approaching analysis within your most important data sets is the best way to set yourself up for success. Without connecting and correlating relationships or hierarchies and tracing red threads between pieces of information, data becomes unmanageable quickly.

Making sense of it all

Good data management is knowing how to turn data into information and information into intelligence. This starts with asking the right question. Your data already has the answers, so what you need is to come up with a hypothesis with enough granularity to focus your analysis. For example, verify known trends like, “our best clickthrough rate in Singapore is on Fridays at 12pm.” In some instances, a focused statement that is wrong brings organisations much closer to the truth, quickly.

Making sense of your data is an approach that combines context with a method of analysis. This ensures that you actually understand your data and avoid the risk of making assumptions that throw you off track and lead you to draw the wrong conclusions. In this scenario, going for the low hanging fruit is best. Start with descriptive statistics which can offer interesting insights without any complex calculations. Then, explore each variable individually before running tests on pairs of variables to draw significant calculations between them.

Data management also involves maintaining information sets on IT infrastructure in accordance with business and regulatory requirements. This is non-negotiable as organisations are subject to an increasing number of compliance regulations. If data is not regulated, business risk facing deficiencies that may have a domino effect on various business processes, from R&D, to research, marketing analytics and the end-user experience etc.

The need to champion data

There are three key considerations businesses need to prioritise in order to continually optimise its use of data to scale and increase its relevance to customers:

  1. Appreciate its value: Review existing information security practices and processes to verify whether they adhere to existing regulation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The implementation of a strong data protection process is the first step in treating data with the same respect and attention as any other valuable and business-critical asset.
  2. Take care of it: Because there is so much of it, it is vital to maintain data quality on an ongoing basis. Data is, after all, constantly changing because consumers are, and has a limited shelf life. Services across any aspect of the business can be far more effectively tailored to key audiences if the information known about that audience is clean, accurate and of high quality.
  3. Keep it front of mind: Exercising the right use of data has the potential to be commercially impactful, so implementing the correct data strategies should be front of mind for businesses and its executives. In our time of fast-paced technological change and intense cross-industry competition, a data-driven strategy is crucial to stay ahead of the game.

Caring for your data is caring for your business. Harnessing data to get the most value out of it can only be achieved and sustained with knowing how to make sense of it and how to manage it. It is now up to each business to drive best practice when using data, in so, building a strong foundation for many business models, decisions and processes.

References

  1. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-3-most-important-types-of-data-for-your-business/

 

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