Here’s a fun fact for you: According to estimates from IBM, the world is now generating more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and more than 90% of all the data in the world has been generated in just the past few years. Those numbers are a little old; it’s probably more like 95%+ now.
There’s no shortage of business data, and even the smallest of companies are probably starting to catch onto the idea that they need to be tracking as much information as they can handle. Plus, the more data a company accumulates, the more opportunities they have to dive into that data to find insights that help move their company in profitable directions.
In our work at Velocidi, we deal specifically with helping companies accumulate data, pull it out of multiple sources and into a single interface, and find actionable decision-making information. There’s almost no limit to the insights you can uncover, once you start doing big data right.
Five Big Ways Big Data Can Improve Your Decision-Making
- By creating easily-tracked Key Performance Indicators.
It’s probably not overstating the matter to say that if your business isn’t tracking KPIs, you’re doing data wrong. While their importance is occasionally overstated, the fact is that KPIs are incredibly useful tools for getting a quick overview of how a company is doing, and how well it’s progressing towards its goals for the quarter/year/etc.
Previously, such performance indicators would be very hard to track in real-time for all but the largest businesses. Now, there are numerous options on the market that compress KPIs into a single easily-digestible dashboard, making it easier than ever to get an at-a-glance look at how your company is performing.
- By indicating what you want or need to know.
Once a company becomes accustomed to working with large amounts of data, that makes it even easier for them to pinpoint the information they want or need to know, but currently, don’t. This is particularly crucial when it comes to emerging or topical matters. As an easy example: There’s a new Star Wars movie coming out in a few weeks. Do you know how many of your customers are Star Wars fans? Would it be worthwhile to create content or other initiatives which capitalize on their potential interest in science fiction?
Chances are, you don’t have this information in your database – but you could. You could even gather it pretty quickly. You might potentially send out an email survey to your mailing list, or create a social media poll asking how many followers are planning to see Star Wars on its opening weekend. Or perhaps they hate Star Wars, and you could capitalize on their preference for reality over fantasy.
Either way, you’d have additional information on their likes and preferences, which opens up all new ways to engage in outreach.
- By decreasing response times.
The words “the world is moving more quickly than ever” are a cliche, but they’re still true. The tendency of consumer trends to shift, then shift again, often in a span of only months – if not weeks – means it’s incredibly difficult for a lot of companies to keep up.
Big data gives you the edge to stay on top of changing business trends. It lets you see which way the winds are shifting early on, giving you more time to change your own strategies accordingly. An agile business is a business that’s gathering a lot of data on what’s going on in the market.
- By looking towards the future.
Trends can shift, but they don’t lie. Nothing in life is ever entirely certain, but on the whole, if you’re properly tracking trends you can also forecast where those trends will be going in the months or years ahead. Previously, this sort of work was limited to the rare insightful genius, but now it’s a standard part of data analysis.
The more you know about your customers, their preferences, and how they’re using your products/services, the easier it becomes to spot growing trends. This can be another key aspect of being an agile business if you’re already pivoting to take advantage of new trends before they’re even on most people’s radars.
- By finding internal optimizations.
Finally, don’t forget about the potential for big data to improve your own internal processes. You’ll have incredibly precise metrics on practically every aspect of how your company runs, from lead-to-sales conversion ratios to the amount of money being spent on pencils. Previously, this sort of data was only the realm of the accounting department, but now it’s increasingly being utilized by managers looking to run a tighter ship.
Methods such as Jack Welch’s infamous decimation tactic of simply firing the bottom 10% of workers regardless of actual performance are becoming outdated when there are far more elegant data-based solutions. It’s now possible to optimize your business without creating toxic internal situations.
Big Data Is There – So Use It Well
Simply put, there are more opportunities than ever before for businesses of all sizes to seize the potential of big data and put it to use. Those that do will be well-prepared for a future where data only becomes more important, while those that don’t will be left behind.