Data as the New Currency
Many articles have referenced data as the “new Oil”. This is a very interesting correlation because when most executives discuss data analytics and business intelligence, the conversation seems to immediately shift to enterprise technologies, expensive solutions, and necessary data analysts to interpret the data. Generally, this is an accepted assumption, but when it is compared to oil, there is an immediate reminder that every business is powered by the same need, data. As Google, Amazon, and Facebook are some of the biggest adopters of big data, the SMB market should tap into the benefits of data analytics to derive the huge business value that comes with it.
Even though there are huge business advantages to data collection for SMB’s, the challenges can seem daunting. According to a Deloitte survey, 51% of SMB’s understand that analytics are crucial, yet only 45% have taken advantage of even the most rudimentary form of data collection. One of the biggest challenges is having the forethought of what you want to accomplish, which data indices do you collect, and how do you interpret it. That challenge of trying to understand how to interpret the data reminds me of some of my Economics and Statistics courses in college. The value of data analytics allows for a refinement and improvement in every area of a business, regardless of size, industry, or product you sell. At the core, business intelligence is the same across all business sizes: where can we cut costs, how do we increase sales and what do our clients really want. Simply applying these three areas in every department within an organization is a good start to taking advantage of the insights this analysis will provide.
But where does an SMB start? First, keep this in mind. Start with the business’s needs, then define the data that defines and supports the conclusions you are trying to reach. The following are four suggestive actions to help in taking advantage of this new currency.
1. Start with the End in Mind
Always remember, data is just noise until it is defined and refined. Start with what your organization wants to achieve, such as: increased sales, enter a new market, prepare for acquisition, etc., instead of the data. This helps to keep you laser focused on supporting your business outcomes. If every problem/solution an organization faces is business-centric, then the natural conclusion is to handle your data strategy the same way.
It is recommended to start with one question that you don’t have the answer to within your organization. Once you have that question defined, then it will be easier to determine the data you need to collect, track, and how to analyze the ongoing impact.based security services.
2. Pick a Small Project that could have a Big Impact
Where to begin should be the organization’s first question. It is also one of the most overwhelming questions to answer. By nature, most executives will struggle with defining the most important data to analyze, usually because they have not thought through what they are trying to accomplish. Add that to the desire to only make the right decision, and you get paralysis. Identify a small project with easily accessible data that has the potential to produce a big impact. This will help with proving the value of the data analytics system put in place and help convince the doubters of its’ viability to the organization. Since SMB’s probably do not have a dedicated data analytics team, garnering support from multiple departments will be necessary to get positive results.
3. The Right Tools are Critical
Mining valuable insights from your data requires an organization to have enough of it. Generally, that is not the problem today because there is so much data being created around an organization. It would be impossible to analyze that much data manually, so utilizing an effective solution is a requirement. But having the data is not enough anymore, organizations need to be able to use it. The results of the analysis can not provide any business insights if no one understands them.
Look for tools that generate sharp visualizations that can be absorbed and understood immediately. That makes it easier to identify patterns, trends, and causation within your data. You will also need dashboard tools that every department can feed with their own data sources and KPIs, since, as mentioned above, you likely will not be employing a dedicated data team at this stage. What was once thought of as big, expensive, and difficult to manage and maintain systems, now are readily available with tools like Microsoft Power BI.
4. Use your Current Data Estate
Instead of focusing on collecting new data, begin by connecting your existing data. Integrate it using a single platform that permits you to manipulate and analyze it and combine it in different ways to harvest new insights. Executives need to incorporate data into their digital initiatives to achieve their business outcomes. Data collection and analysis cannot continue to be an afterthought, or only used to satisfy ad hoc projects.
Begin with the most highly available datasets to begin the process. This could be in your CRM, Google Analytics, marketing campaign open rates tied to specific content, etc. Strategically review what it is you want to analyze, find the datasets with your applications or webservices, and test your processes.
What was once the prized possession of large organizations is now available to organizations of all sizes. I will argue that the financial value and % of impact to SMB’s is greater than that of large organizations. The data Amazon collects during a shopping experience to suggest other items to purchase is monetized in fractions of a percentage. Conversely, if a SMB is collecting data that suggests purchasing an ancillary product or predicts a fluctuation in client interest, the value to the organization could be measured in multiples of 10’s.
Data IS the new currency, and I am excited to see where this takes us.
President / Cheif Operating Officer