Businesses of just about all types and sizes collect data – in some cases masses of it as information pours in from websites, social media pages, smartphone apps, online forms and more on an hourly basis – but can all businesses say they make the most of it?
You can base your business activity on hard evidence in the form of carefully gathered, managed and analysed data so there’s no need to rely on guesswork.
But to do this effectively you need a coherent data strategy.
What is a data strategy for business?
In a nutshell, a data strategy is the effective gathering, organisation, analysis and delivery of usable information from data in support of a business or organisation’s objectives.
Therefore, if you ask a professional IT services company offering data strategy consultancy services to help you, one of the first things they’ll ask you is ‘what are your aims and objectives?’
Once armed with this information – which needs to be detailed with amounts and time frames for achievement, so not just vague ‘to boost productivity’ or ‘acquire more customers’ statements – your data strategy can be planned and implemented.
The top-down approach
Data strategy consultancy involves the whole data process from initial gathering to turning it into actionable information, so it begins with the type of data you need to fulfil your objectives and the best way to acquire it if you aren’t already doing so. In other words, you may require a ‘from the top down’ approach to developing a data strategy if your current methods in any of the ‘gathering – organisation – analytics – delivery’ phases aren’t supporting your objectives.
- Data Gathering – for instance if part of your objectives is to streamline production processes but you aren’t gathering enough – or the right type – of data such as, for example, production equipment usage you may have to look into this.
Your data strategy consultancy may advise developing software to allow your machinery to ‘talk’ to each other, or report usage information via their sensors so as to acquire the data you need.
- Data Storage – how your data is stored and processed may need an overhaul: reliable storage such as cloud or hardware solutions may need investing in: again, your data strategy consultancy will help and advise.
- Analytics – what types of analytics will help you access the information you need? For instance, if your planning and decision making involves looking ahead at future trends, predictive analytics could be a major plank of your data strategy.
- Delivery – how easy should intelligence gained from your data be to access? User friendly analytics interfaces such as Microsoft Power BI provide easy to understand graphics dashboards: your data strategy consultancy partner can help integrate Power BI into your IT setup along with the right version for your needs.