Business intelligence blog

    data refinement: when data is less like gold and more like manure

    The world is experiencing a data boom. We create as much as 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and counting. Data generated by your customers, ERP systems and partners has the power to give your company an enormous competitive advantage. However, this information needs data refinement – it needs to be prepared, collated and analyzed in the right way. Today, data needs to be handled more like manure, not gold. 

    "Data is not so much like gold as it is more like manure.  Having a big pile of it does nothing, but you need to know how to spread it around to make your business grow.”

    If your business is a tree then your aim is growth and data is the enrichment it needs. Manure itself is not valuable unless we combine it for the right purpose. Similarly, raw data creates value when it is refined. Data refinement means ensuring the data put into a data analytics platform is relevant, homogenized and categorized so the users can get meaningful results and pinpoint discrepancies.

    The data refinement process is a key part of establishing a data-driven company and maintaining good habits. Data analytics vendors, like Phocas have the means of helping you get your raw data into shape but will need your business input and expertise.

    Start small, think big

    More data doesn’t always mean better – too much manure is hard to manage, and sometimes it even causes damage such as runoff. Similarly, when big data exploded into the business world, companies collected everything that fell out of the sky and then often found themselves mired in swamps of unusable data. Today, experience clearly shows us that we need to think smaller and focus on quality rather than quantity. We don’t have to analyze all the available data right away. Instead, your efforts should focus on starting small, covering one area of your business and then once you obtain useful insights add more.

    Why everyone in a business needs insights

    We don’t put all the manure under the same tree. Similarly, data analysis should be available to all people in your business. The rise of self-service data analysis has increased user adoption in many industries and made this achievable.

    Successful companies keep up-to-date with their data so they can react quickly to every situation or opportunity. If you implement fundamental data knowledge throughout the company, you take an essential step towards creating a data-driven culture that  sets you up for long term growth.

    Providing access to the same data across the business also allows teams to adapt and learn together, enabling them to share ideas quickly. 

    Three things must be made available to broaden the flow of data knowledge throughout the company: data tools, company-wide know-how, and integrated data responsibility.

    As soon as companies have created access and training for the required data know-how, it is time to adapt to the roles and responsibilities. Colleagues from different departments should at least be able to access and understand the data sets that are relevant to them. By equipping more team members with intuitive, self-service data analytics tools, companies can expect non-data scientists to apply this knowledge in solving department-specific problems, which leads to significantly improved results.

    Data leads to better decision-making

    Just like manure adds strength to the tree’s roots in your garden, data can create clarity in corporate decision-making and reduce the associated risks.

    Data-driven decision-making is based on fact and is unbiased. This helps focus your attention and get to the heart of what is going to make a difference for your company.  Perhaps your company needs more strategies for sales? Determine your primary objectives and build a plan around them. For instance, knowing which  customers are the most profitable can make them a priority for your sales team. Or, knowing that it costs more to secure new customers than it does to nurture relationships with your current customers, you may want to know which customers are in decline. 

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    Business intelligence tools for organic growth

    The functions of the business intelligence software platform you choose establishes the baseline of your data garden. Features such as ease of use, and customization influence the functionality of your business effectiveness. That is where a smart BI solution like Phocas comes into play. Business intelligence software can represent analytics in a visual medium. Dashboards organize data information in a format that can be easily configured, shared, and interpreted.

    Business intelligence systems use real-time forecasting and analytics to observe current performance and predict future possibilities. Online analytical processing involves the multidimensional analysis of data cubes that house large sets of layered information. Drilling and data exploration capabilities provide access to the details of these databases. Accessing these layers of data shows how different variables are related to each other and uncover possible events. Tools that allow for optimized information exchange should include the ability to share dashboards and export reports in various document formats. By using the best data – you enrich your business, helping to retain top people, and you reduce the need for chemical fertilizers as your data leads to organic growth.

    For more information on data refinement, download our eBook - Treat your data like an asset.


    Written by Phocas Software
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    Successful Business Intelligence - Phocas Software
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