What do Forbes, The Economist and Entrepreneur all have in common?
Besides being some of the largest and most widely read online publications on the planet, they all agree that data is now the most valuable asset on Earth.
Forget oil. Forget gold. Forget Bitcoin. Data is the planet’s most desirable and influential resource. It has the power to build. The power to destroy. The power forge business empires. The power to crumble megabrands.
Every business, including your business, is rapidly accruing more and more of this valuable asset. Every single day, your business is harvesting data that you can use to define your future and empower your development.
But many organisations aren’t aware of the superpower they have hidden beneath the surface of their digital systems and software applications, which means too few businesses are using data to its full advantage.
Where Is the Value in Data for Your Business?
We know from data reported on by Business Technology Research (BTR) that business leaders are still making most of their decisions based on gut instinct. And this is a perfect example of how data can be used to help sculpt choices and improve business processes.
Data-driven decision-making has numerous benefits. Working from data can enhance the consistency of work, allowing businesses to identify patterns, pitfalls and create strategies to hone strengths and eliminate weaknesses. You can also use data to spot trends, isolate your market research programs, dig deep into product/service development plans, and use data for transparent reporting to improve reputation, attract investors, and appease stakeholders. Data helps businesses build a bigger picture, identify practices that work, and craft business strategy to the point of perfectly optimised success.
But, as we see from the data reported by BTR, many businesses aren’t doing this.
Instead, they’re using their gut to make choices. While there is value in this method, the benefits of data-driven decision-making are far too powerful to discount. This is why it’s such a great example because this data shows that by listening to the BTR report, ditching gut-instinct choices and engaging in more data-driven decision making, businesses can see real benefits.
Data is helping us see how data can be useful.
Where You’re Going Wrong With Your Data
Not using your data — or not being aware it even exists — is only a piece of the puzzle. More issues are affecting the proper utilisation of data assets within businesses.
- Failure to Record Your Data — Data is an asset that you acquire. The quality and quantity of this resource acquisition is based entirely on how you collect, manage and store it. If you’re not recording your data correctly or recording it in accurate detail, it will end up a crude and unmalleable version of what many tout as the world’s most valuable asset.
- Failure to Validate and Clean Your Data — Data doesn’t come to you in its perfect form. It can be all over the place, with discrepancies and errors. If you try to use raw data, you will be working with inaccuracies and useless information that creates a poor representation of your business. Data must be verified, validated and cleansed of impurities before it can be properly used to benefit your company.
For your data to obtain its true worth, for it to become more valuable than oil or gold, it needs to be refined; just like any other treasured commodity. In its raw form, it can be difficult to work with and unmanageable, which is another reason so few businesses use data appropriately.
But, if you properly care for your data and craft it into something worth using, you’ll soon start to see your business come to life with new opportunities.
How to Really Take Advantage of Your Valuable Data Assets
Getting the most out of your data isn’t as hard as you might expect. It doesn’t require overly complicated data science, as most software tools are built with the capability to not only enhance data acquisition but also report on it.
To really take advantage of the valuable data your business has access to, all you need to do is follow this quick guide:
- Identify the Data You Have — Look at what data you’re already recording and uncover the information you probably didn’t know you were actually in possession of.
- Identify the Data You Could Have — When you know what data you have, you can look at the tools you own, think about what other data they could be recording but perhaps aren’t, and optimise software accordingly.
- Think About the Data You’re Missing — Knowing both of the above also gives you license to think about other applications available through digital transformation that could help you access even more data if implemented. New applications can usually fill the gaps in the data that you’re missing.
- Learn How to See Your Data — Take the time to get to know your systems and learn exactly how to access and view the data that applications are recording.
- Optimise the Data You’re Recording — Systems only record data that they’re told to record. Often, you can optimise data to get more granular and go into more detail: the more detail, the better. For example, instead of software just recording total sales, it’s more beneficial to know sales broken down by different variables like product type, date sold, who made the sale, what time the sale was made, etc.
- Spend Time Cleaning Up Your Data — The best data management teams routinely investigate and audit data recording to ensure their data is accurate and free of errors and inconsistencies. Data should be validated to keep it from presenting inaccuracies that point you in the wrong direction.
- Create Value-Added Reports — It’s easy to get caught up in fancy graphs and charts when creating data reports, but the best data is often too complicated to display in such a clean fashion. Significant, valuable and detailed data isn’t always pretty, but it adds the most benefit to your business. Make sure data reports are about results and not just looking good for stakeholders.
- Continuously Re-evaluate the Previous Steps — The path to data optimisation is always moving. Data strategy is not a “set it and forget it” business activity. Continuous improvement to data acquisition, verification and reporting is essential for keeping this asset at its top value.
If you’re serious about taking advantage of the world’s most valuable asset, then it’s a good idea to work with experts IT consultants to help form your data strategy. Working with people who know how to use and leverage data is the quickest and most reliable way to get your business into a position to see the full benefits that data has to offer.