It’s reasonable today to say that a business doesn’t have much of a chance at success without a strong data operation. On the other hand, however, it’s a mistake to assume that this means every business needs to spend heavily on advanced technology relating to data collection. Rather, it comes down to good management.
Inc.’s assertion that every business is a data business puts it well in this regard, suggesting that effective data only requires a plan — not AI or machine learning. Unfortunately though, this is still where a lot of companies fall short! In many cases, the idea of collecting and making use of data is still fairly new, and even careful owners and well-run businesses can make mistakes navigating it all.
In the end, this is most easily avoided by way of practice. Any business owner will acknowledge that trial and error is part of the process. But some strategic thinking at the outset of implementing a data strategy can certainly help. So, we recommend you read through the following points regarding common mistakes to avoid in this area.
Not Having Someone in Charge
Particularly because so many of the practices relating to data today are automated, it can be easy to fall into the habit of thinking a data operation will mostly take care of itself. As a business owner, you might leave it up to individual departments to make sense of data as needed, or simply take a look at it yourself now and then to see what insights you can glean.
As we pointed out when covering ‘The Role of a Data Steward in a Modern Enterprise,’ it’s best to have someone specifically in charge of all of this. A data steward or manager can specifically be assigned to make sure that information is gathered and catalogued correctly so that the business can get as much out of it as possible out of it.
Failure to Visualize
Data alone is difficult for a business to make much sense of. It may be collected in different forms and through different means, over time and in a relatively unorganized way — ultimately meaning that the business has the information it needs to develop insights, but is allowing that information to remain difficult to interpret.
Addressing this problem, a write-up on big data by Verizon Connect asserts that it has become more important than ever for businesses to present data in “attention grabbing and easy to digest visual formats.” As that article puts it, “raw data simply doesn’t cut it anymore.” It may seem like a small thing, but a business that compiles its data into charts and graphs, for instance, will typically be able to make much more use of it than a business that does not.
Sacrificing Creativity & Ingenuity
Another common mistake involved in data management is to allow it to take over completely. Naturally, you want the data you gather and interpret for your business to have a clear purpose (which we’ll discuss next), and to drive operations. But to trust it blindly to replace creativity and ingenuity can also be a mistake.
The ideal thing here is to establish a proper balance. Data should help to reveal business needs and inform strategic goals. But there should still be an element of creativity in the actual development of actionable strategies when it comes to business practices.
Neglecting to Establish Purpose
The failure to establish or define the purpose of data is also a surprisingly common problem. With so much talk about data’s role in small businesses today, it can actually be easy to assume that if you set about collecting it, its use will take care of itself. But it’s best instead to know what specifically you want or need a data operation for before you actually start one.
If you’re new to the idea of implementing data practices, Business Partner’s outline of reasons for data analysis can give you a few ideas of helpful purposes. As that outline suggests, most any business can use a data operation to improve targeted marketing and customer support, develop new products or services, cut costs, and solve problems. Consider these ideas with specific regard to your business, and you’ll be better able to define why exactly you want or need more data analysis.
Today’s businesses require robust data operations to stay competitive and reach their full potential. And yet, many business leaders fall short when it comes to implementing data strategies. Here we look at some of the most common mistakes that arise in data management, and how to avoid them.