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Embedding insights into your business

The benefits of a data-driven strategy

How the intelligent use of data in your business – and by your employees – can help you gain a competitive edge.

The power of data is well known, yet for many businesses its vast potential remains out of reach.

Barclays’ research shows that only 13% of SMEs use all the data they hold, while fewer than a third are making at least some use of it1. Those figures indicate how difficult it can be to translate cold numbers into hot intelligence.

So, how can you turn the vast amounts of data available for many businesses into real, actionable insights? And more importantly, how can you help ensure the benefits are felt throughout the organisation?

Getting the most relevant insights

A good place to start is to widen the pool of data that you’re drawing from.

This isn’t about increasing the quantity of information for the sake of it. It’s about improving the quality of insight by tapping into additional sources from outside the business.

Gaining a deeper, localised understanding of the industry you are a part of – and applying that knowledge to your own strategic thinking – can help you make more informed decisions by strengthening your own judgements (and those of your employees) with hard facts.

For example, a marketing department could run more effective campaigns if it had access to deeper insights into the most profitable customer groups in their region. Similarly, a local store manager could make more intuitive choices on product selection and promotions if they had prior knowledge of what people are most likely to spend money on.

And at a broader strategic level, deciding where to locate a new venture could be easier if you already know where the hotspots are for your sector.

Use your own data effectively

As well as drawing from additional sources, you should also consider whether you could analyse the data your own business generates more effectively.

Having masses of figures is of little use unless you can unearth nuggets of intelligence that can propel your strategic thinking to new heights.

A good start is to get to grips with how money is flowing through your business. Understanding fluctuations in your cash flow, and the reasons behind them, is at the core of a successful business. It can help you spot cost-saving opportunities or plan spending more effectively.

Empowering your employees

But for the power of data to truly resonate throughout a business, it’s vital that it influences decisions at every level. Embedding data-led thinking in your employees, as well as yourself, is a great way to make this happen.

It helps them to act more strategically in their own roles and the decisions they take.

One example could be a procurement manager identifying where to save money, or a salesperson that’s able to analyse potential customer segments in advance to make the most productive use of their time.

And these deeper learnings from across the business can have a knock-on effect further up the chain of command.

By helping to combine your employees’ on-the-ground experience with data-driven knowledge, you can give them a more perceptive understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the market they’re working in.

This, in turn, can give you a more valuable voice to listen to when developing strategies and making key decisions for your business.