The Benefits of Making Data-Driven Decisions in Business

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Photo credit: This is Engineering

Data collection is the foundation of nearly everything we interact with—what we watch, where we travel, our interests, hobbies, demographics and even our behavior. It’s everywhere. While discussions surrounding data privacy and concerns about protecting our identity are prevalent, data can also serve as an invaluable asset in managing your business. 

Managing data also presents a daunting challenge, especially with large data sets, yet crafting a strategy to untangle data into viable business tools can improve efficiency, drive new revenue streams, create affinity within your customer base and improve competitive advantage. All of this can be achieved through transparent and ethical practices too.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Data

Anecdotal tales of an entrepreneur’s success resonates with an audience for their uplifting and feel-good appeal, whereas relying solely on data points posted on websites can often lack the same impact. To make data points more impactful, combining qualitative and quantitative data can create a powerful tool in your business toolbox.

Making use of qualitative data gathered from surveys or interviews can be leveraged to tell the story of a product or service; however, the inclusion of quantitative data provides a complete picture that depicts the true behavior of your customers interacting with your business in real time. For example, you can begin by sourcing data that describes if clicks on your website are converting to sales and if your upselling techniques are effective. Then, incorporate a customer interview showcasing their positive experience with your product or service and you’ll have a persuasive story.

Silver laptop computer on a table with numbers and graphs on the screen

Developing a Data Collection Stategy

Does your business model involve a clear data strategy?  Does your team clearly understand how you collect, analyze, and utilize data?  Do you engage in a periodic audit of your data collection practices? Creating a strategy to answer these questions will help you optimize business performance.

To get started, or if you’re already on your way and just looking for a refresh, below are tips for a strong data-driven strategy:

  1. Always incorporate data in business planning. Data signals trends in consumer behavior from a longitudinal perspective and quickly assesses immediate shocks to businesses (as we learned during the early days of COVID).  But keep top of mind the value of data for key collaborators or other stakeholders that provide monetization opportunities.  For example, you built a sleep app to track breathing and sleep cycles.  Health companies would be interested in your data to inform product innovation for more restful sleep.
  2. Be consistent with data collection and keep it clean. Consistency with data is key when comparing, contrasting and drawing conclusions to ensure you’re tracking data across the same metrics.
  3. Bear in mind that our world evolves and so should our businesses. In keeping with consistency, adding new data points you want to capture is perfectly okay and often necessary.  Be mindful of how you’re incorporating new data points with data collected over a period of time.
  4. Missing, corrupt, or duplicative data is a reality. Implement periodic audits of data collection practices and data sets to ensure clean data while avoiding blind spots in decision-making due to inaccurate data.
  5. Consider coding to identify themes and subthemes when working with large data sets.  Identifying themes can illustrate customer personas and demonstrate deep knowledge about your customers. To develop a customer persona, map what you want to know about your potential customers, such as socio-economic, geographic, behavioral and digital engagement data. Relevant customer data extends beyond demographics and reaches the heart of motivating factors driving consumer behavior.
  6. Be transparent with how you’re collecting data and its intended use. Institute a data policy that protects privacy and allows opting out when applicable. If your business originates in a state that may not apply robust data privacy laws and you conduct business out of state or globally, be aware of laws such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) adopted in the EU that require compliance.

Applying these data strategy tips can enhance decisions within your business for customer retention, business growth and longevity. 

Resources to Manage Your data

Regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, there are plenty of resources, tools and platforms to assist you in untangling your data. Many reputable companies, such as Oracle, provide insight to determine the best platform to meet your customer data needs. For performance data, starting can be easy. You can simply begin by examining the performance metrics available in software applications designed to streamline business tasks. 

As No. 1 in innovation among American universities, ASU leads the way in data science through various collaborative projects at Decision Theater where new technologies with endless possibilities are explored. 

Ready to ignite the power of data-driven decisions in your business? The Edson E+I team at ASU is here to support you wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey.

Tracy Lea

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