Data Mining: Strike Gold!
14 June 2019
Unknowingly, you are probably sitting on a data gold mine, but since the dots are not yet connected, and no one knows how to exploit the information, this wealth remains dormant.
Over the course of my career, most industry leaders I have encountered, from heads of companies to SME owners, base their decisions solely on instinct, when they could be basing them on available and reliable data. In fact, according to Forrester, between 60% and 73% of data remains unused in a business. Yet, this data holds little treasures that can help you generate activity and exceed your goals.
I propose simple solutions to master your data and improve your performance:
1. Set clear business goals
To best way to start exploiting the data is to set clear business goals. Preferably well-defined figures you will use as guiding principles to define your marketing and operational goals. Determining these properly with the right data will provide you the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you need. To use this data correctly, you must put it together and cross-reference it (see table).
What are the sources of data available, you ask?
The main categories of valuable data to cross-reference generally fall under the following groups:
- Sales data and / or transactional data;
- Customer data;
- Product data, inventory, etc.;
- Web data (sites or applications);
- Advertising data (online and offline)
- Third party data (socio-demographic, industry reports, etc.).
2. Consult your resources and internal talent
Even if you don’t necessarily have a person dedicated to data mining in your business, there are certainly several individuals who have worn a “data hat” at one time or another in their role. You’ll be surprised to see how many data sources are available, though probably used in silos.
By meeting with the people that use data to do their jobs (accountants, webmasters, marketing personnel, salespeople) you will accomplish two things at once:
1- Make a list of the tools that are in place, understand the data already available and know how to use it
2- Start a dialogue; spark interest in the use of data company-wide and, potentially identify the people who could be responsible for putting a data structure project in place (for example: an inventory of the available data, the creation of a dashboard, implementation of internal training on data interpretation).
If you need inspiration to determine which data or which performance indicators to choose, and how to use them, here is a site with industry-specific indicators (free registration required): kpilibrary.com
3. Identify and address potential challenges
Even with the willingness to succeed, tools and resources in place, sometimes challenges arise when you start to use data. In my opinion, here are the most common obstacles and some tips to overcome them:
Lack of transparency
Whether between colleagues, departments, or with external partners (agencies, etc.), some individuals prefer not to share data, because they either fear being judged unfairly or for security reasons. It is important to clarify that this will only serve to identify opportunities for growth and optimization, and will not be used to judge their competence or performance.
For some companies, the most valuable data (cash registers, customer data, inventory, etc.) is found in closed systems (common with older technologies). When data silos are no longer sufficient, you should consider bringing in experts to centralize the data in a more user-friendly way, and make the different systems communicate with each other.
Make data easily accessible
Sharing in-house results is essential to the overall competitiveness of the company. To do this, the dashboard is the tool of choice. With clear objectives and indicators, setting up your dashboards to measure performance becomes simple.
There are a variety of dashboard tools available depending on the analytical maturity of your company (including Excel). For an easy solution that provides considerably in-depth information, Google offers Data Studio, a real-time tool that is simple, free, and connects to your Google Analytics, and several other data sources: datastudio.google.com
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