5 Steps to Achieve Data-Driven Growth Across Your Organization
Business is always a competition. Every customer that chooses your product has to decide that it’s a better choice than one of the alternatives. Even choosing to not move forward at all is an alternative. To build and maintain a successful business, you don’t just need to provide people with something they need—you need to have a better product, better customer experience, and better messaging than the other options they encounter.
A lot of factors go into accomplishing that, but one important ingredient you don’t want to overlook is data.
Building a business strategy that will keep you competitive requires understanding what your customers want and need, and what their other options are. Data is the ingredient to providing that information.
Data though, isn’t just about numbers, it’s the path to insights. It’s the way you gain answers about who your audience is, what they want, what the market looks like now, and how current solutions are serving them (or not). When you collect the right data and analyze it effectively, it provides the information you need to keep your business relevant and get out ahead of new trends and market opportunity.
Data can help you spot a missing feature your customers need early, and launch the product that solves their problem before anyone else in your industry. It can help you understand your audience’s habits as they change—what platforms they’re hanging out on, devices they use, and evolving needs they have. Data can help you better track the market in real time, so you’re never taken unawares when a prospect mentions a competitor’s new product or messaging.
All of that translates to having the knowledge you need in real time to develop and execute on an informed strategy.
How to Turn Data Into Business Growth
The business world talks a lot about being data driven, but putting that theory into practice involves more than good intentions. Here are five ways to go from talking about data, to actually becoming data driven:
1. Commit to a data-driven culture.
Becoming data-driven in your business practices has to start at the top. For employees to feel like they’re allowed to prioritize collecting data and base their decisions on it, they have to know there is executive buy-in.
This step needs to start with your C-Suite, but it may need to go deeper than that. You don’t want departments to feel forced into implementing new processes and tools without also buying into the value of what they’re doing. Your organization may need to do some work training and educating your teams to understand why making data a more central part of their work is worth it—especially if doing so requires making changes to their current work habits.
2. Figure out what data you need, and find the tools to match.
A lot of businesses commit to the idea of becoming data-driven and then quickly find themselves awash in it. This isn’t a case of the more you have the better. Focusing on the wrong data can lead to making the wrong decisions. Even more likely, you can end up with too much to sift through, meaning you overlook the important stuff because you simply can’t find it in the sea of information.
To avoid this fate, start by figuring out what questions you want your data to answer, and then clarify what specific types of information you need that match your priorities. From there, you’ll be in a stronger position to seek out the products that will enable you to collect the right insights and get it into a format you can work with.
Technology isn’t the only answer to becoming data-driven, but it’s an important part of it. Automating the gathering and organizing of information will allow teams to spend more time crafting the story from the data, rather than collecting and sifting through it. The right tools will help you stay on top of the most important pieces of info you care about in real time and—just as importantly—will help you view it in ways that enable you to translate it into actionable insights. Features that help you organize and visualize data once you have it are key to being able to accomplish anything with the information you have.
3. Create processes for collecting and using the right data.
Good intentions will never be enough for putting data to use. You need to work out exactly what the process of collecting, organizing, and analyzing data will look like at your organization, as well as disseminating the insights generated. That includes determining:
- Who’s responsible for each part of the process
- The exact steps they’ll be expected to take
- The tools they’ll use to complete those steps
- How often they should be doing their part of the job
- How they’ll communicate what they learn and to whom
Getting a solid process into place is how you ensure that your goals go from being a good idea to a solid plan that will actually happen. It will also help you ensure that the conditions are right for your organization to stay on top of collecting and using data on an ongoing basis.
When you have a clearly defined process, you know what resources are required to make it happen. This is a necessary step to ensuring resources are allotted where they need to be.
This is the step where a lot of good intentions fall apart if not executed effectively. For your company to actually follow through on your data-driven goals, people need to be provided clear instructions, and allowed the time and tools required to realize them.
4. Match the data with human input.
The data you collect will reveal a lot of insights. However, it’s all too possible to misread data and take away the wrong conclusions. To avoid that possibility, supplement the quantitative data you collect with qualitative information. Set up surveys to collect feedback from your customers directly. Look at reviews to see what people are saying—both about your products and those of competitors. Also, perform customer interviews to hear from the people behind the data.
The insights you learn from people can help fill in any gaps that exist in the numbers. You can confirm that the stories the data seems to present are accurate, and test out any conclusions you’ve made.
5. Infuse data-backed insights into every aspect of business.
Everything up to this point is required for this step to be possible. However, every other step can come to naught if you don’t make a particular point of this one. You have to create processes for making sure the insights you learn are communicated to all relevant departments. Teams across the business need to be empowered and encouraged to shift their strategies and campaigns based on the takeaways.
Your product development team should be able to change up their product designs based on what you’ve learned. Your marketing department should incorporate it into their messaging and the campaigns they tackle. The sales team should work it into the pitches they use with prospects. Customer success teams should have it all top of mind as they work with customers.
One department becoming data-driven is nice, but for your organization to truly reap the benefits, the effects of establishing a data-driven culture should be felt across the entire business.
Let Data Guide You
When you base business decisions on data, you remove much of the guesswork of running a business. You can ensure each choice you’re making is based on something tangible and concrete. The more data you collect over time, the richer and more accurate the insights you gain from it will become. You’ll have the ability to respond to marketing changes with agility, and address trends in real time. All of that will add up to more success—higher profits, happier customers, and a competitive edge.
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