Thanks to lightning-speed digital transformation and our increasing reliance on technology for nearly every facet of work and life, human beings are generating a tremendous amount of data. In fact, according to data from IBM, we created a whopping 40 zettabytes of data in 2020—which shakes out to about 1.7 megabytes of data per person per second.
Data is powerful—it can give you valuable insight into your audience’s wants and needs, inform budget decisions, help you measure organizational and team performance, ensure you’re better supporting your workforce, and much more. But, if you’re like most companies, you’re only harnessing a fraction of the data you’re generating.
Fortunately, thanks to artificial intelligence, big data analytics are more accessible than ever before. And the sooner you gain complete control of your data and begin leveraging it, the faster you’ll outpace your competition.
To help, we’re delving into why you should capitalize on data and why data and innovation are inextricably connected.
What is Data?
Data is so ubiquitous that this almost seems like an existential question. But if you’re going to maximize the power of your data, it’s crucial you understand it from a foundational perspective.
Data refers to facts, stats, and other units of information about a person, group, or object. It can be quantitative (numeric, like an object’s weight) and qualitative (descriptive and conceptual, like a person’s eye color).
It’s important not to confuse data and information. Data is knowledge in raw form, and it must be interpreted before it has meaning. Information, on the other hand, is knowledge gained through communication, research, or instruction. For example, “Braves, 7 and Astros, 0” is data. “The Braves win the World Series” is information.
You harness the power of data when you can turn it into useful, actionable information—which then becomes knowledge.
The Benefits of Capitalizing on Data
As you’ve probably already experienced, translating data into usable information is no small feat. Depending on the amount of data you have, this requires a significant amount of time and labor and an investment in the right tools and technology. And it can also be challenging to find people with the skill sets necessary to manage that software, analyze raw data, and provide your workforce with detailed insights. But the ROI is staggering.
Harnessing data will help your company achieve its goals faster and yield a healthier bottom line. Here are three of the top benefits you’ll enjoy by capitalizing on your data:
1. Improve Decision Making
When you visit the doctor with a complaint, the doctor rarely makes a diagnosis on the spot. Typically, they order a series of tests designed to equip them with data about what’s causing the problem. The more data they can amass, the more accurately they can diagnose your issue, and the better they can design a care plan to treat it.
The same holds true in business decision-making. The more data you have to analyze, the more valuable your insights are, and the better informed you’ll be when it comes time to make a decision.
For example, suppose you’re leading a marketing team tasked with increasing the number of qualified leads for your sales team, and so you decide to launch a multi-channel campaign. But who will you target? What message will you deploy? And how will you know what platforms to leverage?
By gathering data about your target market, such as their demographics, buying behaviors, common pain points, and preferred platforms, you can design a campaign that will reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and using a message that’s likely to resonate. You can also rely on historical data to determine which campaigns previously drove success.
Without that data and the information it provides, you’d be in the dark—and likely waste a lot of time and budget on a campaign that was too broad.
2. Measure Company Performance
How does your sales team know whether they’re on track to meet quarterly targets? How does your customer service team know whether they’re fostering customer retention? The truth is, you can’t measure any facet of company performance without data. And, often, the more granular, the better.
Data can help you determine the following:
Whether you’re spending budget wisely
Senior executives often use data to determine whether various efforts are helping improve the bottom line. For example, they may use new hire performance to evaluate training and onboarding programs or look to departmental results to justify various software expenses.
How to innovate and optimize
Much like a sports team, organizations and team leaders use data to gauge performance in key areas and identify opportunities for improvement. This can help make the team better and foster collaboration.
Who should be recognized and who needs more support
Data can also be used to assess performance on an individual basis, which can help managers determine who to recognize or reward and who needs more coaching and empowerment.
3. Enhance Your Systems
Once you’ve gleaned information from your data, you can apply these insights directly toward organizational improvement.
Here are a few examples of insights applications:
Innovate your product
Market research or user experience teams may hold focus groups and perform user testing to identify ways to enhance the company’s offering and better meet customer demand.
Revamp marketing efforts
Monitoring live analytics like website traffic, call-to-action clicks, email open-rates, and social media engagement stats can help marketing teams quickly course-correct in real-time to get the best results for their campaigns.
Reshape company culture
Data can provide useful insight into employee engagement and productivity, which helps senior decision-makers determine how to support a growth mindset, boost morale, and drive efficiency. For example, if customer service hold times are becoming lengthy, and reps are becoming frustrated and disengaged, this might be an indicator it’s time to invest in a knowledge management platform for faster issue resolution and better rep collaboration. Or, you might find employees are more productive when working from home, which could support a shift to a fully remote or hybrid model.
Data and innovation go hand-in-hand. The more data you harness, analyze, and translate into meaningful information, the more successful your organization will be long-term.