Many business owners are collecting data from multiple sources—they just aren't using it to any real end. But rethinking the role of data in an organization and developing a strategy where none has existed before is now essential.
“In today's data-centric world, business owners need to be collecting and analyzing every data point they have access to," says Nick Genty, co-founder and CEO of Iconic Solutions, a mobile application development firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Types of Data to Assess
The role of data in an organization is important. Data shouldn't exist for its own sake. It's only meaningful if it correlates directly to your business outcomes—and you actually use it.
—Nick Genty, founder and CEO, Iconic Solutions
"This might include data such as website traffic and sales funnel conversion ratios," Genty suggests.
“As a digital product company, we collect user behavior and user activity in our products to get a better handle on what we need to include in our product roadmap," he adds. “Often, we roll out a new feature to a small beta group and, unexpectedly, get a lackluster response. Gathering this information allows us to pivot and remove features that aren't being used and replace them with functionality that users actually want."
Kelly Ehlers, the founder of Ideas That Evoke, a digital branding agency in Madison, Wisconsin, has a different target than Genty's.
“Because we are a digital marketing agency and our productivity influences profitability, we are always looking for ways to improve that metric," she says.
What other types of business-driven data might you track? Monitoring leads that come in from email, social media, online reviews and search engines is one approach, and evaluating the success of your marketing campaigns is another.
“The data you gather varies based on your specific products and services, because it guides product offerings, helps you better understand your customers and improves overall customer satisfaction," says Ehlers.
Tools and Tricks of the Trade
In thinking through the role of data in an organization and creating a new strategy, business owners need to first analyze what data is available and develop a plan to automate ongoing reporting.
“Use aggregate tools like Mixpanel and Domo, which allow you to feed in various data points to analyze and report on," suggests Genty. "These platforms are customizable and offer business owners insight into processes they may not have seen before."
You might also consider a dashboard that helps you understand the role of data in an organization by providing the core figures, but also appropriate context and insights about those figures to drive your decision-makings and techniques to apply your findings for better business outcomes and risks. Vendors usually have comprehensive account management services to speed and streamline your implementation, or you might consider bringing on a team member with data analytics expertise.
Creating a long-term strategy is important to fully capitalizing on the role of data in an organization.
“Our strong, foundational data strategy includes a vision for data use, guiding principles, goals and success metrics," said Ehlers.
“A scalable process for using data effectively is essential to both our internal teams and our clients," said Genty. “In particular, our strategy involves mapping overall goals to a clear, tactical plan to create efficiencies. We collectively share data resources among like-minded clients to better understand where there are overlaps and economies of scale."
How data drives operations in your organization depends on your unique plan for growth. By taking advantage of the quantitative, you can take great strides forward to achieve your objectives.
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