Big or small, raw or processed, open or closed. Data means a lot of things and comes in many forms. But for business owners, it’s essential for informing decision making – and it is only becoming more important.
From tracking employee satisfaction to understanding customer preferences, there are almost unlimited ways data can give insight into your business.
But what can you do with this insight and why should you care? Well, being data-driven has a whole host of benefits. Research has found that 88% of business leaders believe using data helps them to stay on top of customer needs and trends. This ultimately means staying ahead of changing customer behaviours and responding in a way that prepares the business for the future.
Here are just a few business benefits of tapping into data:
When faced with all the decisions that come with owning a business, it can sometimes be a challenge to know what's the right thing to do. This is where data can make a big difference. Data can give you the insight to see where your business is performing – and where it isn’t. Then, you can assess what the best next steps are.
Do you need to put more resources into a certain area? Should you change strategy on how you’re approaching something? These are the types of questions data can help you answer; helping you to act on what really matters. For example, you might find that your finance department is struggling to prepare key statements in time for end of month or input budgets easily. Data can highlight these inefficiencies, helping to signal a need for investment in more staff or better software.
With the right data in hand, you can identify where unnecessary costs are being made and cut back. Maybe you’re spending money on inefficient software or systems that your employees just don’t use, or running inefficient equipment is causing a hike in your energy bills. Data gives businesses the insight needed to understand areas such as these that are draining their budgets. Then, once cut, spending can be redirected towards where it’s really needed.
At the same time, data can also give you the ability to identify inefficiencies and time-intensive tasks that could be automated. Imagine your customer service team are spending a large chunk of time responding to email queries they get every day – this is where data can help you identify this and signal a need for automation. Through this, you can make sure staff are spending time on what matters.
Getting to grips with customer needs is essential if you want to build strong relationships. And data can give you the key to making sure they come back and remain loyal.
Every time a customer interacts with your business, this unlocks a vital piece of information about their preferences. This can be anything from how they engage with your business on social media or what they reach out to customer service about. All of this information can be pieced together to create a picture of your customers. By building a profile of your target audience, you can understand what they really want and provide a service that delivers this.
Having the staff with the right skills is equally important for achieving business success – and data can make sure that you’re hiring the best people for the job. For example, if a large part of your business is project based, but you’re lacking the employees to lead and manage them, employee data and performance metrics can highlight this and help you identify what skills are missing. Then, you can plug the gaps and match candidates’ experience to the demands of the business. And when you hire the right people for the right role, this boosts employee satisfaction and overall productivity too.
As more businesses journey towards going green, data is helping them along the way. Being a truly sustainable business means embracing data to help you understand where your business can reduce its negative impacts. Data can provide insights across all aspects of your business and highlight where you can make the most effective changes.
One area this can highlight is how much energy your business is using, helping you to take measures to limit this such as changing the equipment you use or something as simple as making sure you’re switching off computers and lights when the office is closed.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities of data for your business, but as data becomes more sophisticated and accessible, unlocking its potential for your business will be crucial for keeping ahead of competitors. And once you start taking advantage of these insights, you’ll set your business up for unrivalled success in the future.
Discover the next step in becoming data-driven by finding out how to use data to improve your business.