Stop just collecting data – start using the insights from it
By Zaid Jabar Naser
Be honest, are you merely collecting data — or are you actually using it? Many companies have an overload of data, but are uncertain of how to derive insights from it. Out of context, data is obsolete, and you need to be brave and let your business goals lead the way in order to succeed. Here’s how you start using your data in the right way!
Everyone’s gathering data, few find actionable insights
Today, everybody’s collecting data about everything, almost effortlessly. Statistical functions are built into almost every tool and program, and it’s easier than ever to gather demographic as well as behavioural data. In most cases however, marketing and sales departments are asked to collect too much data, and report on too many KPIs.
Moreover, many companies manage multiple data sources, tools and monitors without knowing how to draw actionable conclusions from them. Merely collecting data has a risk of becoming a very reactive process – if there aren’t any strategies or planning ahead for how to use the results, your detailed dashboards will end up just being data on a dashboard. In order to be successful, focus on data sources that provide the insights you need to meet overall business goals.
Out of context, data is obsolete
When using several different methods of collecting data, it’s important to know just how they correlate, and in what context they matter. With too many separate reports that aren’t aligned and don’t complete each other you will never know what insights they could actually bring to your company. Sooner or later, your data will become obsolete.
In context however, insights derived from data could positively transform the way your company is operating. By streamlining your data points and collecting methods you will be able to unite around your goals and reach a coherent understanding of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
How to start using your data in the right way
Let your business goals lead the way
The first step to start using insights the right way is to review what’s actually important for you and the overall business goals. All data must be able to apply to the bigger purpose of the company, otherwise it will be completely useless in the long run. Based on this data, it’s important to prioritize its relevance – right now, for the next week, in a month or in half a year. By sorting and evaluating your KPIs you will get an even better overview of what is actually relevant to the business goals.
Conduct a data audit
Many companies have too many tools and several years of accumulated data that they haven’t evaluated or even looked at. Continue by reviewing the data and data sources you actually have, both what you’ve been collecting at the moment and what data you might have from previous years. To improve the marketing department’s daily work as well as to contribute to the company’s long-term growth, relevant data and relevant tools are key.
Be brave — dare to exclude data sources you are not using!
When choosing what data sources to use in the future, perhaps the most important thing is to dare to exclude what won’t add value to your overall goals or purpose. Even if you think you have eight or ten relevant data sources that apply, it will never be possible to utilize them in full. Instead, choose a few data sources wisely and focus on these. By doing this you can then prioritize the right KPIs for your business and draw conclusions from the insights provided.
Set up a plan for analysis
Based on your prioritized KPIs, continue by setting up a structure and present a framework ahead. Now comes the time to stop gathering numbers and figures and start putting them into context! Review current activities, trends, competitors and statistics from your different target groups: be careful to follow up and evaluate your data from all necessary aspects (always related to the business goals).
Involve the whole organisation
Finally, don’t forget to establish your new framework in the organisation. Make sure you have a structure where you know what key stakeholders will take part in the different insights, and that you have a forum where you discuss and make decisions on the insights presented. Data affects everyone, so people should be able to influence the results! By involving different teams and departments – from marketing and communications to product development – you will have a general consensus, a better understanding of the data and a stronger commitment to using those insights correctly.
With the right data comes the right insights
With a framework for using your actionable insights, the whole company onboard and the business goals in mind, gathering data will be a delightful and exciting experience. When you actually understand the results, you can make better choices and reach your goals in a faster, more effective way. At the same time, the right insights will help justify your decisions upwards, as well as create reliability and motivation for your employees.