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Stop Drowning In Data And Create An Optimisation Plan

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article |Data Management|Stop Drowning In Data And Create An Optimisation Plan One thing is certain – Big data is big business. As the ways in which we can gather information have expanded almost infinitely, so the data we have stacks up and up. We’ve been promised the earth by understanding our customers better – enhanced profits, more repeat sales, higher average transaction values, loyal brand advocates. And while it’s true that data can deliver all of that, for most businesses, it doesn’t. Because data is a tool like any other, and when it’s misused or not used to its full potential, you’re not likely to see the results. Most businesses collect data without any clear idea of why they are collecting it, and their marketing strategy gets stifled under the sheer amount of available information. Instead of driving the data and mining it to find the relevant parts, it drives them. Learning how to effectively use data is highly individual to each company and their operations and KPIs, but there are some building blocks for good data hygiene and usage that work across all sectors and business types. So, how can you stop drowning in data and start using it to your advantage?

Closing The Feedback Loop

Often we believe that we should be coming up with a lot of colourful looking reports covered in pie charts and bar graphs that we can point to as concrete evidence of macro trends affecting our operations or changes in customer experience. But what do all those colourful reports actually show? Data in and of itself is literally just a bunch of numbers, and all the reporting you like isn’t going to make much of a difference to your bottom line. The most important output is actually the insights that only shrewd analysis can show, and this is the single most important function of the modern marketer. Seeing meanings, patterns and stories is the important part, not the raw data itself. Knowing what all these metrics mean for your business and what action should be taken is the only thing which makes data collection worthwhile.

Make Sure You Measure The Right Thing

The symbiosis between overarching business strategy and analytics can be a tough balance to get right, because both should feed off the other. What you measure should be dependent on what you want to optimise in line with the wider goals you have for your business. But equally, what your goals are should be at least partially dependant on the customer feedback that you amass through your data. Skew the balance too far one way or the other and it’s not going to work in your favour. Setting good metrics for your business is absolutely key to the success you’ll get. Look at things such as which channels drive the most conversions for your business, which landing pages on your website have the lowest conversion rates, what your average order value is in different segments of customers. Underpinning all of these metrics need to be two important things – a great CRM system which can allow you to use these insights to create dynamic marketing campaigns which really respond to individual customer preference and history, and a strict attention to data hygiene and legal practices. Ensure that you’re on the right side of the law when it comes to data collection and storage, and seek out advice from experienced professionals with a track record of legal matter management. The penalties and the damage to your professional reputation can be majorly severe if you get this wrong, so make it a matter of good practice.

Use Segmentation Effectively

Taking action on your data should all be driven by customer segmentation. Not only understanding your customers and their different backgrounds and preferences, but even allocating groups a persona to bring their journey to life and help you see how better to help them. Your knowledge of the goals set out in your business plan should guide which group of customers you look at first, but try to use the data you request to enhance your understanding of each group. This approach allows you to dig a lot deeper and come up with far more creative solutions.

Remember To Add Context

Data is never an island, and if you insist at looking at very narrow ranges of statistics in isolation, the picture that emerges is hopelessly skewed and will never give you an accurate base to work from. A better understanding of context can help you to make much more informed decisions. Make the connection between the figures you’re seeing and what they really mean for your business. Interpreting data badly can be very harmful to your operations and in many cases it would have been better not to collect it at all!

Pull Together Your Optimisation Plan

With the insights you have managed to gather, putting them into some form of actionable plan is the most important part. Six Sigma has a particularly useful concept which can be directly applied to using data insights in this way. The Define Measure Analyse Improve or DMAIC process can be very instrumental in shaping your approach. First, you define the problem that you are trying to solve, known as your hypothesis, set out your relevant stakeholders and the scope of your analysis. Then, you can measure the relevant data fields and use basic analysis to spot any anomalies. The third step is to analyse correlations and patterns within your data set using your visualisation skills to bring it to life. Improvement then corms from using these insights and coming up with a few options to explore. Finally, you control the change by using strategies like multivariate testing and monitoring KPIs to see the impact of what you’re doing. It’s then possible to make responsive adjustments in real time to ensure that your campaigns are fluid and provide a shifting technique to overcome any barriers and generate the best possible return on investment. With a little more careful planning the feeling of being overrun by statistics will be replaced by a focus on only the most relevant metrics to get you to where you need to be.

Using Big Data in the Classroom

StrategyDriven Organisational Performance Article | Big Data | Using Big Data in the ClassroomBusinesses the world over are leaping into the use of big data. The analysis of the vast amounts of consumer data is helping business to create more effective marketing strategies and streamline their business process. However, it’s not just businesses that are using this valuable tool. Big data is starting to make its presence felt in the classroom, and the results are proving to be worth it. As the next big step in the transformation of the modern classroom, technology is at the forefront, and big data could be the key to improving the education levels of a whole new generation. Here’s how.

Better Results

The real-time analysis of the performance of each individual student is now possible through data tracking. This enables teachers and educational centers to have a more accurate view of how well a student is performing. Traditionally, student performance has been judged according to the results of an exam or test, but this is not always effective. By highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each student, it is now possible to create more effective and beneficial learning schedules, and even allow for better group work when complementary skill sets are combined. This can help improve a child’s learning skills, and create a more effective learning curve for every student in the classroom.

Reduce Drop Outs

There are an estimated 1.2 million high school dropouts in America every year. This is a huge issue for educators, and can have dramatic long-term effects on the future of every one of those children. Data analysis could be the key to tackling this issue. Modern software is able to use predictive analysis of data in order to create education programs that suit each student, and with college retention software it is possible to identify those students most at risk of dropping out. Many of the reasons for high school or college drop out can be tackled if they are identified early, which is why tech-savvy educational facilities are integrating these software models into their classroom management.

Education Customization

Blended learning, where students use a combination of online and offline resources, allows students to have much greater control over what they learn. For those with clear advantages in some areas, this allows them to tailor their lessons to their skill set. This is now possible even in large classes, with teachers able to oversee what students are doing in real time. By allowing students to work at their own pace and in areas that interest them, teachers are better able to tailor their offline lessons to those students that need extra help. This can not only help with student engagement, but it also means that those students who excel are not being held back by their peers. For those students that are slower to learn, customized lesson plans can help to keep them on a level playing field.

Data is being used by corporations and businesses in a wide variety of ways. As the full impact and potential of big data continues to expand, the classroom could end up being the most important user of data analysis, and the education of the next generation looks set to benefit from those changes.

Ways Data Analytics Can Boost Your Business’ Growth

Big data is here to stay, and although that can present a few challenges to business (storing it, keeping it safe, etc.), for the most part, it is a boon, which if used correctly can easily boost business growth.

If you’re still skeptical about the use of data analytics, take a look at these very real ways it they can boost business. They’ll have you convinced in no time:

It Can Improve Ordering

If you collect and analyze past sales data, you can identify trends in your company’s sales so that you can order exactly the right amount of stock for your needs. This will help to ensure that you don’t run out of anything, thus helping to keep the customer happy, and it will ensure that you don’t end up ordering too much and spending money on something that will just go to waste.

It Makes for Better Product Management

Analyzing sales data is also a good way to find out which of the thousands of products that you could be selling are the most popular so that you can stock more of the things that are likely to sell in big numbers and fewer things that are unlikely to make you very much money at all.

It Can Improve Your Marketing Strategy

If you’ve ever spent a small fortune on advertising only for it to fail and not bring in as many customers as you would like, there is a good chance that you simply were not targeting the right people or you had the right audience in mind, but you weren’t targeting them effectively. If you were to do what the digital marketing agency MyOptimind do, or even hire them, and use data to improve your marketing efforts, you would be able to spend less money and get greater returns because you would know exactly what pushes your target audience’s buttons.

It Can Help You Train Your Staff

If you collect data on your staff and how they work, then you can use it to identify undesirable patterns in their work or areas in which they aren’t as productive as their peers. Why is this important? Because once you know what your employees’ strengths and weaknesses are you can tailor future training packages to target them, thus saving you money while improving your business from the inside out.

It Can Help You Cut Costs Everywhere

Of course, if you collect data, with Zoho, for example, on every aspect of your business from ordering to time spent fielding calls, you could work out where your time is being well spent and where it is being wasted, as well as identifying where you’re spending too much money and by analysing this data, you would be able to make changes to save money and boost productivity.

You Can Find Upselling Opportunities

If you can use data to identify when certain products are bought in conjunction with others, you can start offering cross-promotions that are likely to appeal and which could be pretty lucrative over the years.

You see, data really is important – time to start collecting it!

How Data Flow and Statistics Are Growing in Importance Across Public and Private Sectors

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The collection of data has never been more important in both the private and public sectors. With the likes of Amazon’s AWS cloud service now offering their Snowmobile data truck that will pull up to your server room, copy your exabytes of data on request, and then drive away to place it in the cloud (saving potentially years of upload time), the size of the data collection effort often relating to customers past and present is immense.

Big Data & It’s Implications

The era of big data is certainly upon us. Collecting the data isn’t the big problem now. For companies and public services like the healthcare sector, sifting through the data and organizing it into useful records that inform at the right time to make better decisions is the real challenge ahead of us. Big data and its data management are becoming a specialist area in its own right now because of the complexities involved.

In the health field, health informatics is a fairly new area that specializes in the collection and management of computer health files. There’s an online master in health informatics degree at the University of Cincinnati where students learn the fine art of data management, protecting systems from a security breach and what to do for disaster management. Their online MSHI program prepares health staff for the patient data challenges ahead from privacy concerns to merging technology and data record access together to let both doctors and nurses have access to patient records when and where they need it.

Web Analytics

The concept of data analytics for anyone who owned a website was something that often passed them by. Some webmasters in the early days didn’t know who was visiting their website, how long they stayed or what pages they viewed. They might have known how many people visited yesterday, but beyond that, the information was far too limited to be really useful.

With the advent of Google Analytics, a free web analytics SaaS from the search giant, the ability to see how many people were visiting, what they did, which pages were the most popular, the average on-page time and host of other pertinent information were available at your fingertips.

Using Data to Get an Edge Over the Competition

Data is becoming a specialist area now. How to collect it, store it and analyze it for potential advantages. Managers can pose the question whether the company has enough stored information to properly determine whether existing customers will approve of a new product launch, a redesign or simply a new flavor or color choice. Data experts can then determine the best way to go about confirming the information that’s being requested using all the available resources available to them with in-house data, along with public information sources like message boards, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, and more.

It’s fair to say these days that it’s all in the data. For busy or cash-strapped public and private organizations, not having to guess saves money and time while speeding up implementation of ideas to turn them into reality.

Doing Big Business With Big Data? Avoid These Big Dangers

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Big Data is that important that businesses are doing more than using it to increase traffic. Today, savvy enterprises realise there is money to make, and they are trying to monetise the information they have. In fact, this blog has a post about why a business needs to start monetising data.

There is no doubt that companies can make a lot of money from information, as seen by Big Data’s rise in popularity. However, just because there is an opportunity for revenue doesn’t mean it is worth taking. Before you attempt to get into the Big Data world, you should understand the big pitfalls.

Here are the ones to watch out for regarding monetising info.

Ownership Rights

Don’t make the mistake of assuming the data is yours to sell in the first place. It is important to remember that the company might not have the rights depending on the chain of events. For example, you might not have asked customers to accept the terms and conditions when they landed on the site. Or, the info might have come from a third party which muddies the waters. Before any data goes on sale, you need to have the right of ownership. Otherwise, they could be a lawsuit in the firm’s near future.

Contracts And Privacy Policies

Understand that the contracts and policies which apply now might be void in the future. It is possible for a stipulation to exist which terminates the security protocols in place and leaves the firm vulnerable. At the very least, a disclosure will be necessary to cover all of the bases. As a rule, take a look at the policies which relate to data and double check the fine print. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Laws And Regulations

The government takes the transference of data seriously, particularly in the day and age of extremist terrorism. Therefore, they pass laws which prevent the sale or transmission of certain pieces of information. If you are in possession of such a file and don’t comply, the consequences will be severe. Depending on who the info goes to, it could be treason. The way to stay on the right side of the law is to research ITAR compliance and EAR compliance. These are the regulations that deal with data transference.

Probably the biggest issue with monetising data is confusion. Because there is a lot to handle, it is easy to mess up the collection and storage processes. Not only does this affect the money side of things, but it is also a security flaw. Big data monetisers, to avoid this problem, form different organisations to specialise in this area. Although it seems like a big move, it is a clever and hassle-free way to cash in on data. Keeping the two sides separate negates confusion and smoothes out the business side of things.

There are lots of opportunities with Big Data, but there are lots of dangers, too.