For years, businesses have relied on slower, more traditional methods to gain insight into how well initiatives are working. Before any business could access online data and business intelligence, only the most prominent players in the space had this privilege. However, just because everyone is now free to use digital tools does not mean everyone is using them correctly or to their full potential. Collecting data and intelligence is always a useful first step, but you must also know how to store, format, and use that data so that it benefits your business.
It is not enough to have raw data in your database as it will make sense to very few people. Thankfully, there are multiple options to make your data collection, optimization, and utilization better. Whether you use third-party tools, like the PI system, to take care of almost all the steps for you or you take a do-it-yourself approach, there are a number of ways to make your data more user-friendly through operational intelligence and data optimization.
Collecting Data Does Not Equal Insight
People new to the idea of using data for business do not understand that the raw data you collect is not immediately usable or digestible to anyone who is not a trained data analyst. Raw data is little more than a massive spreadsheet of numbers and letters that will not tell you much until it is parsed and formatted. How you optimize and format data is where unique operational details come into play. You do not need all the data you have collected all the time. Plus not all data is relevant to the current insights you are trying to uncover.
Part of optimizing your data involves discarding what you do not need. First, find those categories of data that are most relevant to the insights you want to find. Then, convert it into actionable and understandable information that the rest of your team can use. However, if you plan to use your data to train machine learning programs, you must leave it as raw data. The reason is that raw data does make sense to a computer in a way that processed data makes sense to us humans.
Improve Your Data Operations
Data is easier to collect now than ever, but not enough businesses put thought into how data is best stored, maintained, and accessed. Data is incredibly valuable, especially once you start amassing a large data bank. However, too many businesses that collect data never bother to protect the information from internal and external issues. It would be best if you had software protections to deter breaches, data corruption, and other outside forces. Internal maintenance includes cleaning out data that has decayed, fixing errors, and moving “dead” data to a different sheet.
Cleaning the physical pc that stores your data is equally important as dust buildup will slowly choke the cooling fans. You should also physically protect your data from in-person access. There should always be a log of who has accessed it in case something goes wrong. Know that you can track the last person to change something in the system. If a person does not need access to the database to do their job, they should surely not have access to it. Even if you trust your employees, the fewer people having access to the data, the more secure it will remain.
Use Automation Programs To Speed Up Processes
Your database is helpful in so many other ways than just providing insights to use later. Automation can take care of several tedious tasks human employees used to do by hand until now. When a customer places an order, automation software can find the customer’s data and add the new translation to their file. Following that, the software can generate a shipping label for the new order and send an order confirmation email to the customer. All this before a human employee even notices that a new order placement appears in the system. As technology keeps advancing, automation will be able to do more and more with your stored data. Thus, your employees can focus on tasks that require a human’s touch, so to speak.
Data is a modern tool that an ever-increasing number of businesses have started to use. There is definitely more to using data than simply collecting it in a database. If you want to extract valuable insights from your raw data, you need to parse and format it. This will ensure that laypeople will understand what they are looking at. You must also take care of your data as it can decay, be compromised internally, digitally, as well as locally. Let automation programs use your raw data to take over tedious tasks. All the while, your employees can focus on more critical and less menial tasks.