If we’ve come to refer to oil as black gold, then we believe it’s reasonable to be referring to data as digital gold.
Data has been courting controversy lately. Clandestine gathering of personal details by powerful corporations, and big security breaches in supposedly secure data banks have been taking centre stage headlines and damaging reputations. But why are so many so keen to take risks to get their hands on data?
The value of data is rising in synchrony with our expanding knowledge of how it can be used to benefit our business practices. Unlike a traditional, physical resource, it seems that the more data there is out there, the more useful, and therefore the more valuable it becomes.
Luckily, as most are aware, you needn’t resort to illicit means to get hold of useful data, and nor are vast sums always its requisite quantity. There are numerous apps out there designed to gather, produce and analyse data. Useful data can even be produced simply, by taking better manual note of information flowing in and out of your business, and by taking the time to make analytical deductions from it.
But what are some of the advantages that businesses can gain through use of data?
1 – Making better-informed decisions
Decisions are much more likely to achieve their desired effect when they’re made based on facts rather than speculation. Knowledge is power, and, in a nutshell, knowledge is what data provides. So consider what your brand needs to know in order to make the informed decisions necessary to keep driving its success forward. The chances are that by collecting and studying relevant data, you’ll uncover at least a portion of the knowledge you need to make better decisions.
This doesn’t just apply to top-brass decision making. Gathering useful data and ensuring its accessibility across the board will likely benefit decision-making on every tier of every one for your brand’s departments. So ask your staff what they need to know in order to make better decisions, and then take steps to gather the data that will help to provide them with this information. Data informs, and informed decisions almost always lead to more desirable outcomes.
2 – Learning more about your customers
Again, using data to learn about your customers is a means of replacing speculation with fact. By studying and keeping a record of exactly who each of your customers are, you’ll gain a much clearer impression of the audiences you need to be targeting. Guessing and deducing the nature of target audiences may be helpful up to a point, but hard data will reveal exactly who your customers are and what they’re like. So make sure that your brand has a means of gathering information on the age, gender and social background of your customers, and where possible, their preferences and typical behavioural patterns too. The more you know about your customers, and the more certain you are of the truth of that knowledge, the greater the capacity you’ll have to step away from making changes to your products or services that you think might work, and begin implementing changes that you know will work.
3 – Increasing the efficiency of your marketing
A clearer understanding of your customers enables the creation of more efficient marketing strategies. Once you know precisely who your customers are, your brand will be much better positioned to tailor its marketing to have greater resonance with your target audience. Marketing can also be improved by monitoring performance data. Keep stock of which aspects of your marketing are producing results, and which aren’t. Use this information to hone the potency of your marketing efforts by replicating the aspects of your campaigns that are working and iron out the inefficiencies. Spotting new patterns in your customer data can also offer early insights into new consumer trends as they emerge within your target audience. Identify these emerging trends and your brand can take pre-emptive steps to capitalise on new developments in consumer trends as soon as they break.
4 – Improving efficiency and reducing costs
In our article, How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Could Help Shape Your Brand, we speak about how the use of data can help to optimise energy usage in the workplace. This is just one instance of the vast number of ways in which data can be used to improve efficiency, and thereby reduce costs.
Another, specific example is Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. This company made successful use of data analysis to improve their staff organisation. By comparing attendance data with weather records, they have acquired the ability to accurately predict visitor numbers for given days. Using this knowledge they could better judge the numbers of staff that they would require to work in particular capacities, thus improving efficiency and reducing overhead costs.
Another company, Jets GPS Tracking, specialise in collecting data to help improve driving efficiency. Once installed, their systems monitor a vehicle’s mileage, breaking, acceleration, cornering and speed. This data is then studied and used to produce recommendations for adjustments that drivers can make to their style of driving in order to improve fuel consumption.
Hopefully the disparity between these two companiesand their use of data to improve efficiencyand reduce costs demonstrates that the efficiency of almost any process can be improvedby collecting data to better understand aparticular process
Greater use of analytics and data is already in full swing and it won’t be long before all businesses are gathering more data and making more extensive use of it. So act now to keep one step ahead of curve. The sheer breadth of benefits to be gained from the effective use of analytics and data present a stark choice: either you embrace the use of data, or flounder behind in the dust kicked up by your competitors that do, as they storm ahead of you and your brand.