The majority of companies gather large amounts of data – from personal details and IP addresses to past search queries and cookie preferences – but that doesn’t mean they know how to translate it into actionable and meaningful insights. Data is only valuable if it helps a company make better business decisions, so what steps can you take to help transform your data?
You can’t optimize what you don’t measure, so to gain insights from your data, you need to know what it is you actually want to achieve. If you’re not 100% sure, ask yourself some key questions:
• Are there any specific needs that can be addressed by using data strategically?
• Who will use the results and how will they be integrated into the company?
• How will success be measured?
• Are there specific KPIs you want to measure?
However, it’s important to bear in mind that not all data is insightful. Some businesses fall into the trap of using data to support rather than drive their decisions, but the best data will either confirm or contradict what you already know, helping you to make changes to your processes where necessary.
Make it readable
Once you know what data you’re going to collect, you need to be able to understand it. Visualizing data is incredibly important when trying to gain insight, so use charts, tables, and graphs to help you get acquainted with it.
To do this successfully, you need to focus on the most interesting data sets for your specific need (which you defined earlier), cutting out anything else that isn’t relevant for the time being. Next, sort this data into order of importance – this might require you to segment it into different groups such as gender, age, and industry, plus many others. Once you’ve broken your data down into more manageable segments, you can bring it to life with the visuals we mentioned above.
To do this, you need to make sure you’re using several analysis methods, including examining different time ranges, searching for relationships between variables, and looking at trends rather than singular data points. It’s also important to bear in mind that one individual won’t be able to analyze all the data by themselves, so make sure there are several people looking for actionable insights you can use.
It’s important to also look at data from different angles, so make sure you use two or three graph or chart types for each data set. Data can be misleading depending on how you look at it, so this will ensure what it is telling you is accurate.
Transform your data into insight
Hopefully, the tips we’ve mentioned here will help you propel your business forward with insightful data. It’s important to remember that every business is different, so how you gather, collect, and analyze data might not always look identical to the framework listed above. However, this is a great foundation to work from if you’re wanting to drive process improvement by focusing on key measurables.
By Ellis Bledsoe, Principal Owner ECB Solutions, LLC