Analytics have the power to significantly increase the success of a business by fuelling targeted strategies. Here we look at how you can leverage this power to increase your competitive advantage…
Most businesses aim to be successful and improve year on year. Success comes in many guises, from revenue and profitability, through to customer retention. Regardless of your idea of success, to improve, analytics are essential. Analytical tools allow you to interpret meaningful patterns in data to steer your business strategies. They help you to monitor performance, analyse trends and identify weaknesses so that you can improve and focus on the most effective business activities.
You’ve Got The Power
Vast developments in technology have facilitated the ability to collect detailed business data, along with analytics that translate it into actionable business intelligence.
1. Use what you have
It is likely that you’ll already have a centralised database to store data, such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or accounting software. It is the information about your finances, performance and customers residing in these systems that is your business’ greatest asset and will provide the intelligence you require.
In order to leverage the power analytics, you must first know what information is important to you and what you need to know to make more informed decisions. Once you have decided what you want to achieve from analysing your data, you can decide on the appropriate analytics tools and reports to interrogate your data and identify trends and anomalies. For this to be successful it is important you record the right information and keep your data up to date.
2. Predict the future
By consistently collecting, analysing and reporting on your data, you’ll be able to identify patterns and understand what affects your business. The intelligence output of this activity should influence your future business strategies. Financial forecasts, for example, use past data to highlight potential risks, so that you may avoid and prepare for them. Understanding your past success and failures is key to predicting the future. This data ensures you understand what contributes to success and provides the intelligence to minimise outgoings, increase profits, improve process efficiency and replicate activities that benefit your business.
3. Continue to re-fuel
If data is the fuel for successful strategies, it is important you keep it topped up. No business strategy can work in isolation, so it is important for everyone in the business to understand the benefits and actively contribute to the business data collected. An ERP system is the ideal solution to capture and report on business-wide activity, as it allows you report on all aspects of your business omitting the need to run and consolidate multiple reports from disparate systems.
Once you have mastered recording and analysing your core business data, you can begin to add additional sources of data to the mix. Useful tools include:
Almost every business user has access to a Microsoft Office suite with Excel, making it easily accessible and familiar. Added to this, most modern ERP and accounting solutions, such as Sage 200, integrate with Excel for easy manipulation of data. Through its powerful reporting and versatile graphing capabilities you can identify key trends and patterns in your data for a better understanding of your business.
Most HR systems will include pre-defined reports. By utilising the analytics within your chosen system it is possible to identify which employees have what skills, and where there are gaps. This data can help inform decisions for staff retention and development.
This is one of the most valuable analytical tools that monitors traffic to your website. It identifies who visits your website, where they come from, where they navigate to, where they drop off, search terms and much more. This data can be used to identify weaknesses and strengths that can fuel your SEO, web development, content creation and sales and marketing activities.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc. all have their own analytical offerings that provide data your followers and competition. There are also external providers, including Followerwonk and Twitonomy. Data from these sources help you to build a picture of your audience and target market. It tells you what they’re interested in and allows you to find out what content they engage with, so that you may replicate this and extend your reach.
4. Rinse and repeat
Once you have a process in place for collating, analysing, interpreting and sharing business intelligence. You will be able to work smarter and make better informed business decisions. However, to ensure you remain agile it is important to continually assess the value of data and adapt your analytics reports to reflect the changes within your industry.
In order for analytics to be of any use, you must ensure your business is agile, with the ability to act upon the results analytics provide. Technology has empowered companies to collect and record customer data at every touch-point, but it is up to business leaders to implement relevant changes. By implementing a company-wide strategy, businesses will be able to acquire and analyse relevant data that will allow you to continue to increase success and compete with their rivals. Do not be disillusioned by analytics, as you don’t have to be a data scientist to find meaning in your business data as visual reports provide an easy to digest format for you to create actionable objectives.
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