The world around has changed. In this time of massive uncertainty we need to optimize our efforts and create ways to do things more efficiently with the resources we have at hand. In a bid to build the future we must start with the present.

Data has emerged as one of the most efficient ways to weigh your efforts and build a sustainable business practice that keeps improving.

The Truth in Numbers

The reason behind this is simple, numbers don’t lie, math is considered a universal truth – meaning numbers have the power to point you in a factually correct direction.

An example of this is, say you are looking to launch a new product; but while you are doing that (researching ways to bring your product to market) you need to define a sizeable target population and run a comprehensive (structured, semi-structured, unstructured) marketing research on your target population. This is done correctly helps you determine consumer wants, needs, and desires around your anticipated product.

This sort of fact-checking and data-driven intelligence can help you bridge any gaps that may have an impact on your product’s success. But becoming a data-driven firm is not just about performing a one-off marketing research activity, it is about understanding which touchpoints can help you accumulate data and tapping into those inlets to create opportunities to learn.

Data in Your Company DNA

To build a truly data-driven company, you must build systems that help you plug and play with data that your company produces. An example of this can be, say you are a company that operates a freight forwarding business, your vehicles must produce massive amounts of data with respect to your routes, driver behavior, fuel and idle time, etc. Telematics is an interdisciplinary term that merges telecommunication, vehicular technologies (GPS, Navigation systems), informatics – to produce tangible data that can help build vehicular efficiency, reduce breakdowns and accidents, etc.

Another example could be of a firm that relies heavily on inbound traffic through its call centers (say an e-commerce firm) without proper CRM systems in place to record, manage and maintain the regular data that flows into your organization you will never be able to eliminate inefficacies that exist within your systems.

Starting Today

To become a truly data-driven firm you must first:

1) Put your best people on identifying data points that exist in your firm

2) Understand which physical and digital systems can be built to start collecting that data

3) Weigh your options (in terms of vendors/systems that can evolve your current business practice), costs that will be incurred to become data-driven, overall impact it will have on your business

4) Build a plan of action that works for you (does not overstretch your resources)

5) Execute your plan (this is not easy and you need to stick to your vision – make sure your people understand what you are trying to do; so they don’t end up becoming barriers to entry)

The journey to becoming a data-driven firm is not easy, it is a gradual and at times costly endeavor. But the reward of having real-time data in front of you and being able to make proactive business decisions is something you will never be able to live without. Good luck!