Have you ever wondered why some companies grow substantially with help from data while others don’t seemingly benefit in the same way? Information can be a valuable element for business growth, but only if you have some fundamental aspects in place first. 

Big data, for example, can pull insights from years of compiled information in a much faster timeframe than doing it without technology. Here are things you need to become a data-driven organization.

1. A Plan for Using the Data Effectively

It’s not enough to gather data just because you can. Come up with a well-defined plan for what you’ll do with the information after obtaining it. 

Start by determining what you’d like the data to reveal. Are you interested in learning more about your customers or determining which marketing channels are best for reaching certain segments of your audience? Data can tell you those things and more. 

Come up with at least a few things you want to accomplish with the information. Those can serve as your initial roadmap for using data to help your business prosper. Otherwise, you’re much more likely to waste time and money on a strategy that has little chance of succeeding. 

2. A Data Governance Strategy

A Forbes Insights study found that 78% of executives deemed data governance either vital or important to their business intelligence (BI) strategies. Since it encompasses how your company manages its data assets, having strong governance strategies could reduce errors and inaccuracies associated with the information, therefore making it more trustworthy. 

Data governance could also help safeguard the information and ensure unauthorized parties do not handle it. Think of your strategy as a set of principles that can maximize the worthiness of company information. 

3. An Understanding of What Data Can Do for Your Business

Besides having a plan for using data as discussed earlier, another critical element is a recognition of the payoffs you’ll get from using it well. You may know what you want to do with the information but haven’t thought about the results to expect. 

For example, the conclusions made from a big data platform could predict a possible downturn in the market, allowing you to respond before a catastrophe strikes. 

It could also assist with planning by spotlighting customer trends and advising you which products to order or how to update your website to cater to what people want. Data may also reveal some shortcomings in the user experience, such as by showing that most users who come to your website need password resets. Data can also assist in developing accurate marketing personas and predicting customer behavior. 

Once you know how precisely data could contribute to business growth, you’ll be at a good place to determine how to make analytics software work for you. A fact that many company leaders overlook is that it can assist every part of your business, from the supply chain to customer service. Thus, a smart approach to take is to assess where your weak points are and then see how big data could address them. 

4. An Effective Data Architecture 

Your best approach to data architecture that works for your business is to have a three-tiered structure. The first component is for extraction, and the next one is a conformance layer into which you integrate the raw information from the previous step. The last part is the analytics layer, whereby the stats turn into a format that your big data analytics tool recognizes. 

Statistics indicate that more than 50% of respondents don’t think their business treats data as an asset. Having the proper data architecture in place is a crucial part of proving you’re serious about using the information to help the company grow. The correct data architecture ensures you collect and handle the information in ways that make it usable for your enterprise. 

5. A Strategy for Keeping the Data Secure

Failing to have a robust and all-encompassing plan for data security could seriously hinder your data-driven business growth potential. That’s because companies that don’t safeguard information are at risk of receiving fines and unwanted media attention that could lead to reputation damage and public mistrust.

A thoughtful data security plan should be multifaceted and include aspects related to employees, data access, encryption and more. If you are not accustomed to keeping and working with substantial amounts of sensitive information, the ideal way forward could be to invest in a data security audit. Have a professional come into your company to see where you stand and recommend areas of improvement.

While you’re at it, strongly consider getting an audit of your entire cybersecurity efforts. Many data breaches happen when an unauthorized party infiltrates the company’s network. Seeing information security as one aspect of cybersecurity as a whole is an excellent mindset to have. 

6. The Right Culture for a Data-Driven Organization

Achieving the goal of being a data-driven organization requires everyone to get on board with the idea. As such, you should anticipate needing to go through a significant cultural shift first. For example, people must have a mindset whereby they directly connect the information to business growth. Moreover, you may need to invest in new analytics tools or hire employees who have big data expertise. 

Although there’s a cultural component to data-driven business growth, many companies still struggle with that aspect. A 2019 survey from NewVantage Partners indicated that only 31% of respondents had data-driven businesses , and 28% reported having a data culture. 

See Data-Driven Business Growth as a Process

Tapping into data to help a business grow is not something you can do overnight. Even once you have these core elements in place, your job is not done. 

Having high-quality data can help you accelerate your data-driven business growth. Data quality solutions like Xtract.io can help you solve all your data pre-processing challenges and seamlessly integrate business-ready data directly into your business application. 

This kind of business growth is something you’ll get better at with time. Don’t be afraid to ask for outside expertise along the way, and always seek input from key parties, such as employees.


Kayla Matthews is a big data journalist and business intelligence writer whose work has been featured on Information Age, InformationWeek, IBM's Big Data Hub and Smart Data Collective, among other publications.

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