Four ways to be more agile with data

Tom Hunt | 19 May 2017

Thanks to technology, business has transformed in recent years – and the pace of change is getting faster. How should we respond?

It’s do or die

Who would have known twenty years ago that most of us would browse the internet every day on our mobile phones? Or in 2005 that something called Twitter would be the main channel for customer feedback? Or even five years ago that companies would live or die by their ability to analyse the purchasing habits of millions of customers?

This is why modern businesses need to be agile – to be able to respond rapidly and adapt to the blisteringly fast and constant change. Companies that weren’t, like Kodak and Blockbuster… well you know what happened to them.

What you need to be

Agility is now a vital part of any business and its culture. But what does that mean for you and how you work with data? We’ve collected some thoughts on this thorny issue, looking at how organisations need to be faster and more reactive.

1. Analyse swiftly

You might have a lot of data to go through, but you no longer have months or years to collect and sift through it all. More and more companies are looking to analyse their data in real time and extract actionable insights (through predictive analytics), as soon as they can. Using tools that can make sense of data quickly, often through visualisation, has become increasingly important.

2. Be agile across the business

No part of the organisation can afford to slow down the rest when it comes to data. Sales and marketing need to move with customers and deliver the right messages and products in the right place, at the right time. That requires delivering data-based insight that’s hot off the press. Yesterday’s news isn’t any good

3. Break down the silos

A typical business infrastructure might include multiple data warehouses, cloud systems, business units and so on. These can be inaccessible, leading to ‘dark data’ – information that you might not even know about, and that certainly cannot be analysed.

Investing time and resources can help to connect and access these disparate systems and datasets. It’s the only way to ensure that the right data is available for analysis when needed. But at the same time, remember that a lot of the data your business will use comes from external sources as well.

4. Adapt your data based on real-time performance

Data is continually flowing. It can change course at a moment’s notice based on how consumers behave, particularly online. That means you need to be able to carry out continuous updates and revisions to incorporate the most recent actions and behaviours of each customer. And as you learn more about those customers, they need to be constantly re-evaluated.

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