Your Company's Most Valuable Resource May Be Its Data

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6 min read
Our culture creates data at an astounding rate. Every purchase we make, every time we make a call or check out a website, we add to that ever-expanding mass of information. As members of the business community, we understand that data is a powerful and valuable resource.

This value is perhaps most apparent as a marketing tool, but accurate and reliable data can in fact benefit all aspects of an organization. How can your company realize the benefits of its data resources? Below, we've provided a number of key ways data can help build your organization's success.

Ways of describing data

Before we begin, let's define a few important terms. Many of us speak of data analytics as if it were a single monolithic concept. In fact, data analytics ' the process of gleaning relevant information from the data your company collects ' is a good bit more complex. In order to get a handle on it, let's look at three types of data analytics processes.

Descriptive Analytics seeks to condense historical data into a useful, comprehensible narrative. Often descriptive analytics looks at only a selection of variables over a set time frame. For example, by looking at sales figures over June, July and August, a descriptive analytics report would be able to tell you that sales dipped between July and August, but they were up for the summer as a whole. Descriptive analytics allow companies to understand the overall impact of an event, and are, in turn, used to build predictive and prescriptive analytic models.

Predictive Analytics studies historical data to identify patterns and trends, which can then be used to predict likely behaviors or potential scenarios. Prescriptive analytics works on the assumption that the current patterns will continue and tries to extrapolate future situations based on those factors. Many companies have used predictive analytics to personalize their marketing recommendations. If Amazon or Netflix has ever suggested your next purchase or movie night, then you've experienced the impact of predictive analytics firsthand.

Prescriptive Analytics attempts to understand the effects of actions and change. Whereas descriptive analytics provides a picture of what was and predictive analytics tries to foresee what may be if trends continue, prescriptive analytics helps companies understand the effect of changing the variables in the data set. For example, airline ticketing and hotel reservations websites both use prescriptive analytics to best determine when to offer sales promotions or change room rates.

Using data to target your customer

Now that we have a basic understanding of how data can be processed and analyzed, let's apply its value to your company. The first step to a successful business venture is targeting your prospective market. Whether you are selling to other businesses or to the general public, being able to find an appropriate and receptive audience for your goods and services is essential.

Data analytics tools can help you tap into that market. Who is purchasing the goods and services you hope to provide? Who is making those purchases and what factors are going into those decisions? Are there untapped needs that aren't being met? Data analytics tools can provide answers to these questions and help you build your business strategy. By comparing customer demographics with prevailing sales trends in increasingly granular combinations, companies can suss out where their next best potential markets are.

Personalizing the customer experience

Every customer wants to be made to feel special. Careful use of customer data can help give them that experience by personalizing their interactions with your company. One way to do this is by examining your website data. What are the most popular views on your site? What is your customer interested in? What are they looking for? If you see that many customers tend to gravitate toward one particular area or feature, you'll want to make sure that option is up front and easy to find.

Another source of customer data that you can take advantage of is customers' stated email preferences. How frequently do your customers want to be contacted? Is there an optimal day of the week or time of day in which they seem more likely to respond to email offers?

The focus of these interactions should not be just to push the next sale. Equally important is your ability to impress your customer with the value you are providing them, so that you earn their trust and brand loyalty. In the short term, they may not buy every product you suggest, but in the long term, they will return to you when they need your type of product and they will recommend you to other potential customers.

Using data to enhance the customer experience

We've all had bad customer service experiences. We've endured seemingly endless hold times, listened to bad canned music, and been shuffled from one representative to another in search of someone who can help us.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Companies are using customer data to streamline their customer service interactions by providing a complete customer profile for each account, including any previous purchases, preferences or problems. This gives the representative the information she needs to more quickly and efficiently address the customers' concerns.

Data's effect across the organization

The examples above center primarily on sales and marketing. But relevant, reliable data can lead to more success for all aspects of the company. One of the biggest ways relevant data helps the company as a whole is through reporting. Clear, data-driven reports can effectively communicate what your team has accomplished and how those accomplishments have affected the organization as a whole.

When you can show how the data supports your efforts, you can dissolve some of the tensions that may exist between internal company teams and initiatives. This increased transparency can lead to opportunities for more meaningful collaboration and substantial workplace efficiencies.

In addition to intra-company communication, your company's ability to collect and process data is essential for the optimization of workflow and business processes. Tests that measure the quality, performance and reliability of your goods or service, and the processes that create them, must be given the same level of attention as sales reports.

Is your product performing as well as expected? Where is there room to improve? Are there areas of production that actually need less attention than you're currently giving them? A careful study of the data can help your company optimize and streamline its production and procedures.

Clean data makes a difference

Numbers can't solve all our business problems. But insights gleaned from the careful study of company data can mean the difference between a successful venture and sad disappointment. If you're interested in learning more about taking advantage of your company data, contact Blueprint today.