How to become a data expert

CRM systems, asset performance tools, connected devices and cloud-based service management software are providing us with unprecedented levels of information. But developments in technology and data generation are moving fast, so it can be challenging to keep up. And, it doesn’t matter how much intelligent, connected data is available if you don’t know how to turn it into something valuable.

But, many service-led businesses are already extracting value from big data and using it to give them an advantage over their competitors. So, how can your business lead the way and become a data expert?

Be strategic

As with any investment you make, it needs to be strategic. There is a lot of hype about big data and what it can do, but you need to know how you will use and what you expect to get out of it. Put simply; your data strategy must support your broader business strategy. For example, how will data help you to deliver a better service to your customers, save you money and/or make your operations more efficient? Data for data sake isn’t going to cut it.

Understand what data can do for you

It’s not the volume of data that’s important. It’s what you do with it that matters. Today, data can be used to uncover trends and insights, and this allows you to capitalise on these to drive business growth. For example, where is your business working well, where faults and issues are occurring, where are you losing money and where can you create new revenue streams?

Don’t try to do too much at once

For many service-led businesses, too much data can seem like a headache. It comes in too many forms, it has to be managed (usually in many different systems), and it must be stored and handled securely. So, it makes sense to start using data in one area, before rolling it out across your entire business. To do this strategically, look at where data will deliver the most significant returns or have the most impact. Once you have experienced how data can improve one department, it’s much easier to see how it could be beneficial to the rest of your operation.

Don’t make it hard on yourself

Regardless of the data you have access too, you don’t want to have to spend an excessive amount of time making sense of it. So, look at where you can use cloud software to access real-time, tailored, and accurate information, from multiple data sources, presented in easy to understand visual dashboards.

Make it accessible

Today, fewer people are office based than ever before. So you want to be able to access your data from anywhere. Cloud-based software and mobile devices will allow your people to retrieve the insights they need as and when they need them.

Understand that not all data is created equal

Big data includes all the information an organisation has access to which could be used for discovery and analysis. But not all data is equal when it comes to value. Make sure you know what information you have access to (e.g. structured data, unstructured data and multi-structured data) and which data sets carry more weight. Once you have established a data strategy with set objectives this should be easier to do.

Prepare for the unexpected

Quite often data throws up results that you don’t expect. And, for some managers, that can be problematic. Especially when it challenges accepted decision-making models and ideas. As such, the influx of new data can require a new approach and an acceptance of wider change.

Today, as all aspects of our lives become more and more data-driven, how a business manages its data is directly related to its success. So, if you want to remain competitive in today’s rapidly evolving landscape, becoming a big data expert has never been more critical.

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