Refuel Your Small Business With Actionable Data

Data-driven decision-making is informed, confident, and factual and allows you to make decisions using your head, not just your instincts.

  • Refine and Process Your Data

    Raw, unstructured data won’t tell you much. To extract the golden nuggets, you need to filter it. After collecting your data, ask questions like “Can this data give me a clear and direct answer to a pain point in my company?” and “Can it tell me when my sales peak during the day?” Look closely at the numbers, and ask, “What is the data telling me?” You must be able to answer this question before proceeding with an action step.

  • Build Infrastructure Around Customer Relationships

    Looking to data specifically surrounding customer behavior trends is a simple yet powerful way to start extracting actionable data. This data can lead you to product enhancements or a new marketing approach. Start by searching for any information that other organizations have gathered on your target audience. Is there consumer behavior data you could analyze and use to your advantage?

    Next, explore your audience’s social profiles. Do you see any commonalities? Chances are that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are already collecting information about your target audience that you can pull from. Add these social sources to your metrics, and look for trends or patterns you can act on. Southwest Airlines, for example, began using speech analytics to mine data from live-recorded interactions between customers and personnel and uses it to continually refine the customer experience.

  • Go Broader With Global Data Sources

    Once you’ve taken inventory of internal and customer data, turn your attention outward to the vast public data sources that are free to use. Make open data sources, such as Data.gov, a regular stop in your gathering and analysis process to add context or validate your findings.

    For example, data science consulting firm Polynumeral paired its own data with open-source satellite data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration while studying poverty in Bangladesh. Before, the company had to go door-to-door to gather data every five years. Using the free information on nighttime lighting patterns across the country, Polynumeral established a link between lighting and economic trends, which turned into a valuable predictive model.

Raw data is teeming with useful insights. But before you can act on it, you need to build infrastructure that can digest and process it. Think like a bear, and only focus on the heartiest bits. Then, you’ll start feeding your company with meaningful data and a sustainable energy source.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Asha Saxena is the president and CEO of Future Technologies Inc., a data management and analytics firm based in Plainfield, New Jersey. Contact Asha to have her speak at your next event or conference. Connect with @asha_saxena on Twitter.


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