How to use the data in your business to aid strategic decision making
Big data may sound like a daunting and frankly irrelevant concept. It’s often seen as the preserve of corporate giants who use their massive computing power to analyse huge volumes of complex information to guide their every move.
In reality, though, it simply involves extracting relevant business data and analysing it to gain actionable insights that make you more money. That means businesses of all sizes, and in all industries, can leverage big data to bring value to their operations.
Find out more about big data and how to use it in our comprehensive guide.
- What is Big Data?
- How Can Big Data Analytics Benefit Your Business?
- Big Data Best Practice: Getting the Most from Your Analytics
- What to Consider When Selecting Big Data Analytics Tools
Big data defines large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations. The insights gained through analysing large volumes of data can be game-changing – especially when those insights are applied to the strategic planning process.
The ‘big’ in big data isn’t what’s important – it’s what organisations do with the data available to them that matters. Today’s data tools now make it easier than ever to extract and interrogate your data in a very cost-effective, easy to manage fashion. This makes big data a powerful force for all business managers.
Your system records every keystroke, transaction, and sale line, but many businesses fail to treat this as an untapped asset. If you know how to extract and interrogate this data, the benefits are significant.
Faster, Better Decision Making
- Instant access to accurate, real-time, and relevant information improves agility and responsiveness
- Identify trends and patterns, whether by demographic breakdown, geographical spread, spending amount, product or service preference, or other factors
- Decisions become data-driven versus relying on intuition alone, making them more balanced
- Unearth valuable insights that would otherwise remain hidden
- It will allow you to identify wasted resources and more efficient ways of doing business
- Efficiency improvements optimise costs and resources, for sustainable long-term ROI
- With real-time data, you can ensure competitive pricing that reflects current market conditions, ensuring profitability
- Reduce the time spent on reporting. Concentrate your time on information analysis or acting on issues as they arise
- The use of a centralised information system makes information transparent and accessible across the organisation. This will allow departments to work collaboratively, sharing data and insights that can be used to formulate strategies that are more unified and better focused on achieving corporate goals
Enhanced Customer Analysis
- Use big data to identify emerging demand trends. Establish a competitive advantage by tailoring your operations to cater for these trends before your competitors
- Use the power of big data to give customers what they want
- Identify, track, and monitor customer purchase patterns, preferences, and interests to effectively segment your customers. This will allow you to tailor your products and/or services to their needs
- Use big data to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV). This involves tracking the costs and revenues for each customer to identify those that are most profitable versus those that are eating up resources for very little return
Better Management of your Sales Funnel
- Using key metrics, sales managers can keep track of the number of opportunities or leads in the funnel, the arrival or acquisition rate of these opportunities, and how long they were in the funnel before a sale was secured, etc.
The sheer volume of information now available has resulted in data that’s raw, unstructured, and complex. This makes it more difficult to comprehend how best to collect, manage and analyse this data to deliver valuable and actionable insights.
Before you think about the best big data analytics tools to employ for your business, there are several best-practice steps you should work through to ensure you extract the maximum value from your analytics tools.
A Clean, Integrated Dataset
A database is only as reliable as the information that has been entered in the first place. Ensure you cleanse your data and strip out the rubbish in your system.
Once your database is in working order, it will be easier to maintain. Always continue auditing and cleaning up your database and never stop searching for areas of improvement.
Start with the Problem
To help you define the actionable data you wish to extract, carry out a brainstorming session with your team. Ask them to complete this sentence: ‘I wish I knew’.
Using the concept of ‘I wish I knew’ will uncover the strategic, essential information that can be answered through big data. It will define the indispensable information you need to move forward.
Use Big Data to Identity Key Trends
Once a quarter, perform a deep dive into a particular area of your business and run trend analysis to identify appropriate insights. For example, for Q1 you could focus on customer segmentation, Q2 product performance etc.
This will yield quicker and better results than trying to take on too much, too soon. If you look at nitty-gritty weekly reports this will not give you the big picture you require to make strategic decisions.
Leverage Insights to Embrace Opportunities
Decide what action you should take to address the related issue or capitalise on the opportunity. Leverage your insights in a timely manner and remember the action you decide to take is not set in stone.
From there, you should set up micro reports (e.g., weekly or in the form of alerts) to identify if the action you have taken is making a positive impact and should be permanently implemented in the business.
The marketplace for big data analytics software can be confusing. Do not get bewildered by the functionality or terminology. Stay rooted in what you want to achieve and measure, and let your analytics provider worry about how they will extract this data for you.
To ensure your selected big data analytics tool is user-friendly, consider the following when looking at your options.
Customisable Design & Interface
Your analytic tool/s should allow you to easily tailor your system to measure and show your own critical performance indicators, at group, role, and user level.
Ensure access to your Business Intelligence Models can be controlled by you. You can restrict data access by segmenting users according to your predefined groupings.
Total Analysis Breakdown
This will enable you to look at the holistic picture and then easily drill down to constituent parts. Ensure the program allows you to combine several criteria to interrogate data.
Information can be further refined by sorting, grouping, and filtering to the level you deem necessary quickly on screen.
This will allow you to compare data from a previous day, week, month, period, or year to identify trends and gaps.
Integrating company-wide or departmental KPIs using graphical analysis on centralised dashboards is a pertinent way to keep analytics top of your employee’s minds.
To find out more about big data and the solutions Intact can provide to help you capitalise on this growing trend, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org