How can data help you as a business leader? Consider that customers are constantly providing feedback in the form of online interactions. Likewise, markets (and market conditions) are now evolving at a blistering clip. Every purchase, every visit to your website, every step of the sales or manufacturing process that you engage in generates helpful insights that you can use to improve business operations and data-driven decision-making efforts. With a winning data management strategy in place, the more you interact with clients and vendors, the faster you can gain visibility into shifting trends, competitive landscapes and customer habits. And the more rapidly and effectively that you can respond to these insights, the more flexible and future-proof your organization will be.
With that in mind, the following tips could help you build better data-management solutions and design powerful, flexible IT infrastructures that are capable of growing with your business—and improving data-driven decision.
1. Design with the future in mind.
Data is now the basic building block around which winning business strategies are crafted, and can be applied in many ways to fuel ongoing growth. To make the most of it, supporting data-management systems have to be infinitely scalable, accessible on demand and able to freely and securely exchange info between other apps, tools and solutions that you create. So when crafting a data-management framework, begin by thinking holistically. Ask yourself: Could other colleagues or business ventures of yours also benefit from having access to the information you're collecting, and how can you apply this data to achieve many different types of goals? Likewise, while support systems should leverage past user interactions to inform and enhance current interactions (e.g. by remembering and speaking to customers' buying habits and preferences), don't limit yourself to smaller pools of insights either. Data-management solutions that you create should also have the ability to access external information sources, such as news feeds, stock tickers and third-party software plug-ins, to drive better data-driven decision making and enhance user experiences as well.
2. Get your colleagues involved.
In many businesses, stakeholders from different areas of the organization are involved in discussions surrounding data management. However, each may have conflicting perspectives and priorities. To help all achieve their goals, without inhibiting your ability to operate (e.g. by finding ways to readily innovate or pivot business strategies without compromising cost efficiency), consider creating a cross-functional leadership team to oversee these efforts and promote open communication. By championing active collaboration, you can craft unified data collection and analysis efforts that support a wider range of business operations and activities. Even better, the more you share information and insights with peers, the more visibility you could gain into your business's current and future needs. You'll have more resources you can bring to solve problems and more ways you'll be able to leverage data to drive growth and innovation as well.
3. Begin with the end.
Business leaders often craft high-tech apps, products and services first, then seek to design supporting data-management frameworks after. To save time, money and effort, you might want to explore the opposite. Consider what types of data and IT-management needs will be required to support different business initiatives up-front and how to best structure them—then build end-user solutions that piggyback on these resources after you've got a working high-tech pipeline in place. To ensure optimum results, consider all the types of features and functions that your solutions might offer—and build an IT backbone that enables them, which can readily be expanded on and updated as customer needs shift. Similarly, don't forget that data collection and analysis systems that you build will evolve over time. To keep up with changing markets, and do so at scale, they'll also need to pull additional information from outside sources and shift with changing end-user requirements. Likewise, these systems will also generate increasing volumes of data themselves, a growing amount of information that you'll need a solution in place to manage.
Data is now the basic building block around which winning business strategies are crafted, and can be applied in many ways to fuel ongoing growth.
4. Don't reinvent the wheel.
In 2019's high-tech world, many businesses will already have preexisting IT and data management solutions in place. But putting new tools and platforms that support smarter data-driven decision making in place doesn't mean having to scrap these legacy solutions and start from square one. In fact, the smartest approach to innovation here is to make small, incremental changes to preexisting systems, slowly introducing new features and capabilities a step at a time. (For example, adding custom orders to your online storefront before adding a complete end-to-end inventory tracking system, or emailing targeted ads to various customer groups before personalizing your promotions to individual buyers based on their online habits.) Updates to your IT infrastructure, and data management solutions, don't have to be time-consuming or costly either. To maximize return on investment, think about which small changes would have the biggest impact on your sales or operations. Then slowly and steadily roll out new incremental improvements that deliver them.
5. Embrace new data-management models.
Today, zero downtime and unlimited flexibility is the gold standard for data-management systems. Noting this, these IT frameworks should support infinite uptime and be designed to work in all manner of cloud, hybrid or on-site business environments. Similarly, any high-tech tool you use that leverages information for data-driven decision making should be based on a distributed architecture (to enable reliable, high-speed, on-demand performance) and fully contextual (able to customize interactions to the user/scenario). In a similar fashion, any system you rely on for understanding and managing data should be easy to update, expand or revise, so that they can grow with your clientele and business.
Business leaders in every field can benefit from better data-management systems and more informed data-driven decision making. Fortunately, a few simple tweaks to your operations and IT strategy is all it takes to better understand and manage these growing information needs going forward.
Photo: Getty Images