Snoopy has it going on: he’s one well-organized and methodical beagle. Have you seen his dog house? We could learn a thing or two from him and apply his approach to extracting insight from data.
It doesn’t matter how large or small your company is; you know that your goal is always to be expanding. There may be many approaches to achieving growth, but what is the most constructive area to concentrate on?
When you create a method for how you approach your organization’s analytics, you might be surprised at how effective and informative your data can be. But how does one even begin to extract data insights?
Let’s take a page out of Snoopy’s guide to maintaining his dog house: organization.
What are Data Insights?
At first sight, it’s easy to believe that data insights are nothing more than the understanding you get from data. That’s almost the definition, but it doesn’t quite cover it. Data insights aren’t so much a result but more of a process. It’s the complete cycle of gathering data, analyzing it, and putting it to work for you.
The end goal? Making sound business decisions with confidence. Your organization can be data-driven when you have solid data insights. But you need three things to achieve data insights before you can get to that point.
First, of course, you need data. Data is the metrics you gather to measure and gauge specifics about or for your business. For example, you can measure performance, usage, or sales.
Next, you must have analytics if you want to collect data insights. This is the part where you examine and study the information you’ve collected. Basically, analytics requires translating the numbers into a message or a pattern.
And finally, data insights can’t possibly be complete without insights! The insights are what you’ve learned from analyzing the data. They’re a signpost that can guide your decisions and move your organization forward. Think of insights as the feedback from your analytics.
What Data Insights Can Do For Your Company
Anything referring to insight has to be good, right? But other than a general “trust us, insights rock!”, what specifically can data insight achieve for your business?
Let’s start large. Having data insights can keep you on top of the big picture for your company. Looking at these insights lets you understand what is happening over your entire organization; you can see clearly where your business is. How is overall performance? What’s working; what’s not? This broad view lets you assess the state of your business.
Ultimately, data insights give a company more power and authority in making business decisions. 88% of respondents to one poll indicated that they use their business data for actionable insights. Irrefutable metrics that provide evidence of what’s been happening within the organization, and patterns indicating what may happen, empower better decision-making.
This applies to decisions at all levels. For example, companies can apply data insights to high-level, broad business-wide choices like handling revenue or running the organization. It can also benefit niche, corner small business decisions, like determining the best communication methods with customers or an effective marketing strategy.
Employing analytics is like organizing a closet.
Think of your data as the stuff in your closet. When it’s not been put in order and systematized, it’s chaotic. You know what you need is in there, but you can’t find it without a heck of a lot of searching. However, once you’ve organized the closet, you can find what you need when you need to use it.
And there’s no question about Snoopy’s dog house closets. Those are obviously clean and orderly.
Tips for Extracting Actionable Insight
Pulling data insights will be a different process for every company; there isn’t one correct way. But while each business has a method that may work best for it, there are a few universal tips that can help any organization in its search for data insights.
Set a Goal
Before you begin gathering data, you need a clear purpose. Otherwise, you’re casting an enormous net; you’ll be pulling in all sorts of information you just don’t need.
Save yourself a massive headache and organize your process before you begin. What do you hope to learn from your process? Knowing your objective helps you narrow down where to look for quality data. This prevents you from getting lost in an endless sea of metrics.
Is Your Data Reliable?
One of the most critical aspects of analytics is evaluating if you can rely on your information. It isn’t any good if you can’t trust its source; it’s possible it will give you incorrect results.
Using multiple sources can paint a broader picture for you. Not only will you get more data when you use more than one source, but you are also more probable to find an unbiased result in your metrics.
The challenge with pulling your data from many locations is properly integrating them. According to Gartner, roughly 80% of a company’s data is unstructured. They likely aren’t going to be formatted and stored the same way, so there will be some challenging work to make the many sources fit your system. However, it’s worth it.
Know the Power of Good Data Visualization
A visual message can be extremely effective. Just look at Snoopy – he was able to convey reams of information without uttering a single word! Using concise visuals meant that his thoughts were easy to understand at a glance; he never convoluted his message with too much information.
In the same way, a clean, comprehensive dashboard makes your metrics a snap to understand. You’ll glean more insight when it’s presented in the correct format. Graphs and charts is how you communicate your analytics results in an accessible way. You can have primo metrics to share, but they mean nothing if nobody can grasp the message within them.
Raw numbers may feel overwhelming, and may not sound informative at all at first glance.
Make Your Steps Replicable
Collecting data insights isn’t a one-and-done project! You’ll want to keep this up. One-off insights won’t carry you forever, so this needs to become routine to keep your business on top of its game.
Make sure you have an IT infrastructure that can keep up with your analytics needs. 80% of business leaders turning toward a data-driven business model have expressed concerns that their technology prevents them from fully appreciating their data insights.
As you set up your analytics system, simplify your steps and ensure its a process you can recreate again and again. That way each time will be efficient and you won’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.
A bit of analytics and organization can go a long way in benefitting many areas and operations in your business. Data insights is an end-to-end exercise in data collection, analytics, and drawing conclusions. These conclusions give businesses a powerful foundation from which to make insightful business decisions, whether they are about the entire organization or small processes within. To get the best results from the procedure, always set a goal beforehand, ensure your sources are reliable, incorporate user-friendly dashboards, and make the entire operation repeatable.