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How to maximise returns from your data

Thanks to advances in technology, accessing data and analytics in your business has never been easier. Yet, many business leaders still don’t see data as a corporate asset and neglect to use data to improve and optimise their business processes.

According to Gartner, only 20% of analytic insights deliver business outcomes. This highlights the disconnect between collecting data and gaining tangible outcomes used for strategic decision-making.

If you’re a business leader facing this problem, here are four steps you can take to maximise returns from your data.


1. Create a robust data strategy

It’s crucial to build a data strategy that’s linked to key business outcomes. Any data project needs robust architecture, strict governance, and of course, business-linked goals. The common mistake businesses make is to gather so much data that it’s nearly impossible to categorise and use effectively in pursuit of their key objectives.

Building a solid data ecosystem is an excellent first step. This allows you to store data appropriately and access the right information when you need it. Dumping all of your data in one place makes it difficult to use unless you’ve carefully filtered out the most critical data.

How you gather, analyse, and use data needs to be linked to business goals, and this strategy needs to be in place before you start data collection.


2. Know and understand your data

You may be in a position where your organisation is already capturing vast amounts of data, but how much of it is relevant to your business objectives? It’s vital to isolate data of value. In any data exercise, you’ll find a lot of information you can’t use, so it makes sense to prioritise the data flows that give you the most value.

The main challenge here is that businesses gather data from a variety of sources. In effect, this means gathering disparate data in different formats at different times. Your business will inevitably collect both data of value, and data you’re not interested in, and that’s where technology comes in.


3. Invest in technology

Data discovery exercises need technology. It’s as simple as that.

Technology helps you obtain massive amounts of data through the existing software platforms that you use. Just think about it, the average business nowadays has everything from a CRM that captures every interaction with a customer, to marketing automation platforms that record web activity.

Typically, these platforms and services have some analytics capabilities built-in where you can analyse data and make decisions based on the analysis. However, the insights from data are only as good as the data itself.

So, with data locked into different platforms, data siloes are created and you won’t get the complete picture. Sure, your marketing platform gives you valuable insights into your marketing. Likewise, your CRM gives you actionable data into your customers. Now, imagine the possibilities when you combine all this data.

By using an ETL (extract, transform, load) solution you can collect, separate, and deliver data to one central location for analysis. These solutions rely on three automated steps:

- Extraction. The first step of the process extracts the data from various sources like CRMs, marketing platforms, databases, mobile devices, and more.

- Transformation. The second step transforms the data by cleaning, standardising and verifying it, and sorting it according to type. This ensures data quality and accessibility.

- Loading. The final step loads the newly transformed data into a central place where it’s available for analysis and ready to deliver valuable insights.

In this way, a business’s data creates business intelligence by delivering a complete, unified view of every aspect of the business. This makes the data easier to analyse and visualise and enables strategic decision making.


4. Drive a cultural shift towards data

Finally, the other challenge facing business leaders isn’t tech-related at all. It’s a cultural resistance towards investing in data. This needs to change from within organisations, and like any other change, it needs to be driven by communication. This is best achieved by clearly establishing the role that data plays in the business and linking it to key objectives. Communicating this to all staff is essential in driving a cultural change towards data-driven business.

If you need assistance accessing data, establishing your data strategy, or putting your data to use, we’d love to hear from you. Contact the experts at FinXL to find out how we can help you maximise the returns on your data.