The other day I was sitting in a Webinar about data trends for 2018. As the webinar went on, I started thinking about all the data that a business has to deal with today. Of course, we are used to things like finance, sales, and inventory data, but to manage your business you may also have to deal with:
- Store Foot Traffic
- Freight and Delivery Info
- Line of Business specialist tools
- Industry-specific data (government standards monitoring, etc)
- Web analytics
- Marketing campaigns
- Product Shelf Life / Lot monitoring
- Asset /Property information
- Maintenance data
- Location data (drivers/sales staff)
I’m sure there are many others that I haven’t thought of. The number of domains of information that we need to deal with is ever-increasing; and each of them has its own set of tools to monitor and interrogate. The problem is that if we deal with each in isolation, we have to learn how to work with the information tools from each system and we also lose sight of the cross-domain impact. The classic example is correlating marketing campaigns with sales changes – it raises questions like ‘Did my marketing campaign contribute to the growth in sales?’ Without merging data from your campaign targets and results with the actual sales data (what did we sell and to whom?) – these questions will never be answered.
Of course, the simplest action is always to stick to what we know, concentrate on the financial reporting and sales reporting and then manage the other sets of information using the tools they come with – then use the magic of Excel to put things together. This is the approach that we tend to default to as it works (after a fashion) and gets us some results without investing time in changing our processes or thinking too much about it. But does this help us to improve our business?
Another problem with using this default approach is that it begins to break down as the number of data domains we need to deal with increases. A much better approach is to use a dedicated data management tool (remember the phrase ‘Business Intelligence’?). Tools such as the Qlik suite of products (Qlik Sense and QlikView), allow us to load data from any source and then combine and mix to answer all our questions.
Start simple. Just load basic sales or financial data into one Qlik Sense “app” and use the tool to get what you can out of it. Then as the need arises, do the same for another domain, perhaps some marketing information. Once you have the two independent sets of information, it becomes possible to combine them and begin to answer business questions such as ‘How were sales impacted by each of the campaigns I ran in the last year?’.
If you choose not to invest in management of your data, then your business will still continue to run, it’s just that you can bet your competitors are leveraging these new cross-domain tools. As we move forward, effectively running a business is going to be more about having the right information at the right time. Of course, this has always been true, but it is getting harder to have that information available from all sources unless we embrace new management technologies such as good Business Intelligence tools.
Talk to us today on 1300 583 097 about how Endeavour can help you make sense of your Big Data.