‘It’s key to remember that not all data is valuable’

By: Séamus Dunne

According to Forbes, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at the current pace, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s difficult to comprehend just how much data that is and how we might use it but that’s what more and more organisations are trying to do. 

A common misconception is that having more data automatically leads to insightful data, it’s key to remember that not all data is valuable. Advances in data centre storage, cloud management and hybrid cloud solutions mean data is more accessible and malleable than ever before. But how can an organisation get the most from its data? Here we outline the three crucial considerations an organisation must take into account in its drive for data; preparation and accuracy, analysis and application. 

Preparation and accuracy Making the most of data involves two key phases, preparation and data analysis. Too often organisations can jump straight into analysis considering what they want to get from the data. An organisation should firstly decide what they want to find out from the data, what will benefit the business, its operations or its marketing.  The accuracy of an organisations data is crucial; how was it sourced, audience definition and consent and is it collected in a secure and transparent manner. Once an organisation has spent sufficient time on this stage it is sure to have a sound basis for data analysis that will allow them to answer the right questions. 

It also goes without saying that any data used should be recent and timely to the questions an organisation is looking to answer, out of date data cannot inform an organisation or its strategies.  

Analysis  The rise in data analysis roles from accountancy firms to banks, marketing and tech shows the drive across a variety of sectors to utilise data. In partnering with a data analyst an organisation can seek to understand what the data means; audience insights, transactional insights and online engagement insights. When looked at together with a broader understanding of the business this has real applications however it needs to be presented in a digestible format. 

Application Learning from the data and applying it presents significant opportunities for an organisation. Investing in the time to understand the insights and adapt strategies, operations and engagements is where an organisation will over time see the return.   Depending on the sector and the specifics the applications may vary greatly. For pharmaceuticals this may involve investing in the manufacturing, a significant investment and change but one that could deliver time and cost savings. A bank may identify a marketing strategy drives more engagement and click-throughs with specific target markets while a retailer may identify a particular online customer experience which is affecting sales completions. 

One sector where data analysis has had huge applications is in media providing a wealth of actionable insights into how consumers readers and viewers are behaving and as a result impacting marketing spend for organisations everywhere.  For any organisation, data use comes full circle once an organisation builds it into its ongoing planning, regularly looking at what the data tells us, the insights it provides and how it can be applied.  When we consider the opportunity that data presents to all sectors its incumbent on every organisation to take this opportunity seriously before their competitors do.