Business intelligence blog

    The 4 aspects of data you need to get an accurate view of your business


    “The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.” Mathematician, John W. Tukey on exploratory data analysis.

    A quality BI tool like Phocas, provides a similar insightful picture into your business.

    Michael Smith of Johnston Companies said, "Five minutes into the [Phocas] demo, I found items that didn't have the margin I was expecting, customers that didn't have the profitability I was expecting and vendors that weren't performing the way I expected. I realised that we were onto something that would be very impactful to our business.”

    Having a clear picture will empower you to see opportunities or issues you never expected to see. Access to this level of information is critical for sound decision-making and management. But first, you must have access to accurate and unbiased information that is complete and up-to-date. Without access to quality data, your picture is an inadequate presentation; a picture only partially developed.

    Let's explore four aspects of data that you need to consider to get an accurate representation of your business.

    1 - Accuracy in data

    Today, many businesses still rely on Microsoft Excel for their data analytics. However, it is estimated that 1-in-5 large businesses have experienced financial loss due to spreadsheet errors. A small error in one cell: a misplaced decimal point, an extra zero, or a broken formula, and so on, can cascade throughout the data and potentially create a multi-million dollar reporting error. The incidence of errors increases when data is combined from multiple spreadsheet sources. Business intelligence tools collect data from your various sources, eliminating the chance of erroneous calculations.

    2 - Unbiased data

    To manage a successful business, an unbiased overview is essential. However, employees can unintentionally bias interpretations in updates or reports.  A decision made using biased information is a decision based on opinion rather than fact. This is always a risky endeavour. For example, an unintentional desire to prove an assumption may lead to confirmation bias. This type of bias is one people fall prey to because they have “gut feeling” that says the information is correct. Another example is when the area of analysis is selected subjectively rather than objectively. For example, a sample group of customers may not accurately represent the actual customer base for a specific product. Therefore, analysis results on that group are skewed by a bias selection. Customer surveys are an excellent example of selection bias. Unbiased data is data based on facts, not “gut instincts” or subjective interpretation. It’s impersonal. It has no underlying motivation.

    3 - Complete data

    Companies often store data across multiple sources such as CRM and ERP systems or excel spreadsheets. Pulling data from only one source to generate reports leaves a business with an incomplete picture of the truth. If you're analysing incomplete data, your insights are likely incomplete as well. Incomplete data can include incorrect or missing values or inadequate representation in the data sampling. Incomplete data occurs when there is a lack of cohesiveness in data gathering and storing methods. A lack of data connectivity exacerbates the issue. Data access points may not be connected because a company does not have a single platform that will manage the data across all sources. But the right BI tool will draw from multiple data sources to present a fully developed picture back to you and your employees. At Phocas, we collect all of the data that is already sitting in your records. The entirety of your data can now be queried and presented as a single grid, dashboard, or charted view of your entire business. Having the whole picture is essential because optimal decision making is jeopardized when the data is incomplete.

    4 - Up-to-date data

    Basing your business decisions on outdated information is akin to basing your technology purchases on outdated trends. As technology continues to advance, what was once considered cutting edge is now obsolete. Just walk into any computer store carrying a pile of bulky CRT monitors to appreciate how far and how fast technology has advanced. Unfortunately, traditional reporting is as outdated as those once modern monitors. It often takes days for IT to get a report to a manager’s desk. By the time it arrives, the data is already out-of-date. This prevents you from quickly responding to emerging trends. Phocas automatically updates and refreshes your dashboard for real-time, lightning fast, actionable insights.

    With these four qualities your data will portray the most accurate, factual, complete data in the moment, enabling you to take advantage of the opportunities and minimize the problems you were never before able to see.

    To learn how to use your data for your benefit, download our free eBook, 'The top 7 KPIs an Executive should know and measure'.
    Click here to download your executive eBook

    Written by Phocas Software
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