Running a business is no easy job. Every day is full of dozens of decisions that can range from larger strategic or financial decisions, to smaller decisions like what to order for lunch. And while there is something to be said for listening to your gut when making these decisions (especially when it comes to lunch), some of them have the potential to directly affect the overall success of your business. Your instincts are probably a huge part of what got you this far, but with so much on the line, and an incredible amount of advanced technology available, there is no reason to go on feelings alone. So how do you make sure that you are backing up your instincts properly, to guarantee the best possible chance of success?
The Importance of Data Driven Decision Making
The internet has given us many gifts in the past couple of decades alone, but the one that is most impacting the way that we do business is the ability to make smarter decisions through the use of big data and data governance. Since 2014, more data has been created than in the entire history of the human race before that. So it goes without saying that there is a ton of data to draw from when making key decisions.
How Good Use of Data Can Help Your Make Better Decisions
Even if you are aware of the amount of data that is out there, you still might not be aware of how it can influence just about every part of your business. So let’s break it down. Here are just a few of the areas of your business that can receive a huge boost from making data driven decisions.
Marketing is all about listening to, and understanding, your customers. As such, data from sources like social media and search engines can help you to gain significant insight into your customer base—such as their online habits, social media preferences, or interests and hobbies—and target your campaigns accordingly. And beyond that, you can also track the success of your campaigns as they are rolled out, and use those insights to help you know what you need to do differently in the future. Furthermore, you can also use metrics like conversion rates to let you track the success of your marketing efforts and overall health of the company.
Naturally, there are similar benefits to be found in data driven sales. In this context, you will find that you can use data metrics to track your pipeline and understand where you are losing the most leads. The right data can also help you to find good, high quality opportunities, and know which leads are the most worth following.
A business has to be profitable in order to succeed. You need data to help you to know how profitable yours is, when and where you might be in trouble, and how to fix problems before they happen. There is perhaps nowhere that decision management is more important than in finance. And data driven decision making can aid in your forecasting, projections, and in setting and meeting expectations, and a financial dashboard can help you to keep all of it in order.
In a recent survey, 67% of consumers said that customer satisfaction was more important than price when doing business with a company. This makes customer support essential, and given how much customer data is now available, one of the easiest areas to use data. You can use it to track customer habits and anticipate their needs—things like tracking mentions of your brand, listening to online chatter to understand demand or common complaints, and more—giving them the service that they not only want, but have often come to expect.
Managing Your Data
Of course, many people find managing all of this data easier said than done; according to one survey, 85% of companies are trying to be data driven, but only 37% would say that they have been successful. From our experience, managing data often overwhelms companies, especially startups with small teams who are wearing a multitude of hats. Trying to keep up with the endless reports across various departments is enough work to be a full-time job, forcing many organizations to have to choose between data insights or actual production. This is where business intelligence (BI) tools that are tailored for startup companies, like Grow, come into the equation. The real-time dashboards available in these BI tools allow small teams to spend less time processing data using clunky spreadsheets, and more time creating data-driven strategies and making quick pivots.
The data is out there, so why not use it? Failing to make data driven decisions today is like choosing to paddle a speedboat; why make life harder for yourself when far superior tools are readily available? If you are not taking advantage of them, you can be sure that your competitors are.