For today’s businesses, there is no shortage of data. Nearly every customer interaction is a new source of information, and everyday operational processes similarly add to the company’s stores.
As more data is collected, many organizations seek out opportunities to leverage the information, allowing them to monetize these digital assets or use the information for a competitive advantage. This desire led to the rise of analytics.
However, merely reviewing information isn’t enough. When keeping ahead of the competition is the goal, the intelligence gathered must be both meaningful and actionable. With the proper approach, companies can use analytics to identify customer needs, create better products and services, and even drive digital transformation in the organization. In cases where monetization is a priority, developing a viable product is essential.
Nearly every company in every industry is sitting on a potential data mining goldmine. If you want to make the most of yours, here’s how to turn analytics into an advantage.
Define Your Information Strategy
Before your data can provide value, you must understand precisely what you hope to accomplish. Creating a robust information strategy is a critical part of this process, ensuring you outline priorities, set goals, and craft policies and procedures for data management.
Often, this involves aligning information management activities with key business drivers, allowing company leaders to select relevant metrics. Additionally, the organization must find a balance between improving business outcomes and mitigating risk, especially in a climate where data breaches and mismanagement snag headlines around the world.
By creating an information strategy first, you can make sure any subsequent efforts all work toward a common goal. It functions as a valuable touchstone, acting as a source of guidance for the entire company.
Know What You Have
An asset can only be leveraged if you know you have it. Before you can use analytics to your advantage, you must take an inventory of your information.
Review your structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data sources to identify key types. This can include operational, commercial and public data, including information gathered from social media or available internet content.
The idea is to take stock of your available assets, allowing you to identify what is available and what may be missing.
Fill in the Gaps
If you determine that information is lacking in crucial areas, find sources that enable you to fill in the gaps, providing you with more robust data stores based on the objectives in your information strategy. This may include anything from sending out customer surveys to capturing web traffic information to supplementing with a third-party provider and more.
Precisely how you need to collect additional data will vary depending on your unique situation and the state of your current informational stores. However, even if you seemingly have mountains of data, it’s important to acknowledge you may need more in specific areas if you want to get the most value from analytics.
Focus on What Matters
In some cases, business leaders assume that every piece of information available is valuable. However, not all data is created equal in that regard.
Instead, it’s crucial to learn what data matters the most to either your company or your customers. This gives you additional focus, ensuring you can take advantage of data subsets that can have a positive impact on your organization.
Without focus, it’s easy to become overwhelmed or distracted by the sheer volume of information. By learning to identify critical subsets now, you can ensure your analytics efforts concentrate on value-generating areas that align with your larger goals.
Invest in the Right Technology
Nearly every analytics process is supported by technology. Databases, discovery tools, file stores, and a wealth of other systems and solutions can all play a role, as well as emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and deep neural networks.
While the database may seem like the quintessential organizational technology, it’s important to understand that stored data is becoming increasingly unstructured. Social media posts, photos, infographics and videos are often incredibly valuable as sources of information but don’t fit into traditional database solutions.
Without the proper technology, organizing and analyzing data is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. This is especially true if you have large stores of information in a variety of formats. If you haven’t made significant investments in data analytics technology, deriving value from your information is significantly more challenging than it has to be.
Evaluate Indirect Monetization Opportunities
Once you have the right technologies in place, it is often wise to begin by evaluating indirect monetization opportunities. This includes any approach that allows you to use data internally to create positive change, such as by improving processes or product and service offerings. Typically, the primary goal for indirect monetization is to support income growth or find cost-saving options that can make an impact on your bottom line.
After such opportunities have been identified, it’s important to test any subsequent ideas for feasibility. Not every idea will be practical or a wise use of resources, so it’s important to keep your core goals in mind while also respecting budgetary constraints, present risks, potential gains, applicable laws and regulations, and even scalability.
Consider Direct Monetization Options
While indirect monetization creates value through internal improvements, direct monetization is more transactional. For example, trading the information for goods or services from a third party qualifies, as well as selling or licensing the information. Even incorporating the data into products or services, both existing and new, can be a form of direct monetization.
Once you consider these options, put any viable ideas through the same paces as your indirect monetization opportunities. Since the end goal is to support specific organizational goals, it is vital to confirm that any potential path is thoroughly vetted in advance.
Identify the Ideal Data Stores
In the vast majority of cases, analyzing every data store available to your organization for each project isn’t feasible. Not only would this be cumbersome, leading irrelevant information to be reviewed repeatedly, it is also time-consuming.
Instead, you need to determine which data sources are the most valuable in each instance, including the data types and potential locations. For example, while social media may hold insights that can assist with identifying product features your customers would like to see, it won’t be particularly helpful when the goal is to improve an internal process.
The idea is to identify assets that are applicable to each objective, allowing you to focus your resources in the most efficient manner.
Secure the Right Talent
If you want to make the most of your company data, you must secure the right mix of talent to manage critical systems, oversee projects, and derive meaningful insights from the information.
Today, business intelligence and data analysts are in high demand, and a shortage in these skill areas makes competition for the best and brightest fierce. However, without a competent team, you may struggle to gain meaningful insights from your data. This means your other investments aren’t generating the returns they would otherwise, potentially leading to uncaptured revenue or similar missed opportunities that harm profitability.
In a candidate’s market, it is critical to embrace a variety of mechanisms when you need to locate talented job seekers. Don’t shy away from social media as a resource and consider partnering with a recruitment firm that specializes in IT professionals as methods for tapping larger talent pools and connecting with candidates you may otherwise miss.
Create a Data-Friendly Culture
Even in today’s digital world, not everyone outside of the core IT team responsible for data analysis understands the value of data. At times, securing buy-in from other organizational leaders or employees can be challenging, especially since any gained insights are often a springboard for change, which can make people uneasy.
If you genuinely want to turn analytics into an advantage, crafting a data-friendly culture is a must. Often, this involves highlighting how analytics can provide everyone with value, such as by improving internal processes, creating opportunities for financial gain at all levels, or other benefits of supporting the technology.
While it can take time, working to make leveraging data for cumulative gain part of the company’s culture, you end up with an environment that is poised to act, making it easier to stay ahead of the competition.
Ultimately, by creating a strong strategy, embracing the latest technologies, crafting a change-friendly company culture and updating your recruitment methods, you can position your company to make the most of your analytics, ensuring your data mining goldmine isn’t unexplored.
If you are looking for top candidates to support your data analytics objectives, the experienced recruitment specialists at Solving IT can help you find the right job seekers for your vacancies. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled team members today and see how our IT hiring expertise can benefit you.