Five ways to make better use of your data

Blogs 9 May 2023

How can you use the data you already have to help save you time and money as a small business owner? Hollie Whittles, Director of Purple Frog Systems, shares five tips.

This article was first published in First Voice. Written by Hollie Whittles, Director of Purple Frog Systems.

As a small business, the main things that impact you are likely to be time and money. They say we can never have enough of either, but by using the data you already have in the right way, you can create and save more of each. So how do you get started on making it work for you?

1. Get it ready

A bit of housekeeping will make all the difference. You will already have data in your business in lots of places, but it probably needs a tidy up. There might be data in spreadsheets, in an accounting system, in a human resources system or even in a cloud-based platform, but how do you report on it centrally with all those systems, which do not integrate? How can you be sure the data is up to date and correct, with no duplication? As the saying goes, ‘failure to prepare is preparing to fail’.

2. Show your data off

A lot of businesses use Microsoft Excel to attempt to report on their business, which can lead to bloated and duplicated spreadsheets full of data, tabs and charts. Things have moved forward and new cloud-based technology such as Microsoft Power BI allows you to easily create self-service reports that can even update in real time.

By visualising your data, management can easily see how the business is doing and where it is going to go. People retain 80% of what they see, compared to 20% of what they read and only 10% of what they hear. You can also throw these visuals onto screens on your office walls, a laptop, tablet or smartphone to be easily accessible to staff, or to show to a prospective customer you may have just met while you are networking.

3. Learn from your data

It is vital to start thinking about your data strategy and planning how your business can grow through data-backed decisions that drive your business forward. By accurately tracking the metrics that you are interested in, you can create rich reports in order to quickly act (or react) accordingly. This could range from finding potential new customers to tracking how your current customers are interacting with your brand or even predicting your sale trends.

From an internal point of view, you may want to highlight how well the company is doing to employees, tracking key performance indicators on how they are making a difference to the company.

4. Use the experts

We all try and save money by sorting it ourselves, but it can be a daunting task to plan out a full data strategy, so try to use data analytics specialists. You do not need a full plan in place to start with, but you might need someone to help point you in the right direction.

Remember, to help your business thrive in years to come you need to consider both tactical solutions to start gaining immediate benefits as well as having a long-term strategic direction. You want a partner that is going to help you on your journey and create something with you that will form the foundation of your new data-driven culture. This should include preparing for more advanced data analytics such as machine learning.

5. Move to the cloud

There’s no time like the present, so get started now. You can download and start using Microsoft Power BI for free, and even deploy your reports to the cloud. Cloud computing allows access on the move while offering secure cost-effective setups for all sizes, as well as improving disaster recovery capability. Start small, but think big to ensure your organisation gains that elusive competitive edge.

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