We all know that data is a valuable part of modern businesses, whether you’re a large multinational company or a small family-run set up. It inspires almost everything we use, from phones to televisions to city infrastructure. Companies like Amazon and Netflix utilise data to make recommendations based on what users have watched or bought before, and it’s even used by police to predict when and where future crimes might take place. Pretty great, right?
Data can offer insights about a business’s customers, drive innovation, improve products, encourage better decision making… in fact, there isn’t really much it can’t do! But to make the most of it, you need to make sure your data’s organised and accessible to anyone who needs it – in other words, you need an effective data management strategy.
Wait, what’s data management again?
Data management is simply about how your business manages its data; whether that’s operational information like supplier details or transaction data like customer orders. Data management looks at how your data is created, stored and processed, but there are are also a couple of other things to bear in mind.
With the General Data Protection Regulation just around the corner, a big part of effective data management is ensuring your data is controlled, monitored and protected using the right security processes and policies. For example, if you’re handling sensitive or confidential information – like, say, a customer’s credit card details – effective data management can help to make sure that the information won’t fall into the wrong hands.
And it’s not all about security either. A good data management strategy will make your data much easier to use, so wave goodbye to those messy spreadsheets! With an effective data management policy in place, your data should be stored and categorised using a classification system that’s actually relevant to your business needs.
Where do I start?
Data management can seem daunting, especially when it’s something you’re not used to working with on a day-to-day basis. But don’t worry – we’re here to help! We’ve compiled the 5 key principles of effective data management, to help make sure your data management strategy starts out on the right foot.
1. Find out what your business needs
The first step in effective data management is to step away from your computer! Talk to people in your business who interact with data on a regular basis. By finding out what they get from the data and what’s missing, you can understand the context of how your data’s used and the areas you need to focus on in future. Departments that involve customers, finance and operations are definitely key areas when it comes to data use, so be sure to chat to your marketing and administrative teams.
2. Assess your data
Looking through your company’s data might not seem like the most thrilling task, but knowing what you’re working with is a key part of effective data management – plus you’ll be surprised with how much you can learn in a short space of time!
Starting with your company’s strategy in mind can help you to focus on what’s really important in your data set, rather than getting dazzled by things that won’t actually make a difference to your business. Ask yourself: does the data in our database accurately reflect our target customers? And do we have the right information we need to make informed decisions?
3. Organise your data effectively
The next step in effective data management is to organise your data. Once you’ve got an idea of what data you have, you can begin to clean it (sponges away – this just means removing any data that’s incorrect, incomplete or duplicated). This will reduce the volume of data, making it easier to sift through and meet the standards of any future legislation.
Bring together stakeholders from across the business, as well as your IT department, to talk about how your data should be organised. Discussing any new practices will help to keep your data management consistent and make sure your strategy’s followed by everyone.
4. Make your data accessible
Effective data management isn’t just about making your data organised, it’s about making sure people can see it. Complicated spreadsheets and complex dashboards can make it hard for anyone without a technical background to access your company’s data, so think about other ways it could be made more user-friendly.
Analytics and data visualisation tools are a great way to take some of the apprehension away from large sets of data – and no one has to worry about deleting something by accident! Most tools will let your employees receive monthly reports on a specific set of statistics, so they can easily keep track of the metrics they really need.
5. Know how to use your data!
Even the best data set will be useless if no one’s really sure how to use it. To maximise the value of your data, you need to be using it in processes from beginning to end. Find your data, understand the implications, use it in decision making, factor it into a product’s design, leverage it in customer interactions – everything!
An effective data management strategy is there to shape your future business success. Go ahead and make the most of it!
Shape your data management strategy with Infinity Loop
Leading on a new business strategy can seem intimidating at the best of times. At Infinity Loop, we have the experience and insight you need to transform your business.
When you work with us, we promise you concrete results that will actually strengthen your business – rather than a load of jargon that doesn’t really mean anything! Our team of consultants is made up of entrepreneurs, leaders and senior managers, so we all know what it takes to build a successful business and how important it is to get things right the first time.
Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you.