TECHNOLOGY

How to Survive (and Thrive) in the Data Jungle

Is SaaS necessary to make heads or tails of your data bloat?

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BY Jordan Kasteler - 10 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Only a few decades ago, companies kept their business data in spreadsheets that fit comfortably on a 1.44-megabyte floppy disk. Now, the world is set to produce 44 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020. With all that information, it's becoming a data jungle.

Today, businesses are expected to produce and interact with large amounts of data. Thanks to the digitization of business functions, everything your company does is now rich sources of information. This includes your digital presence and social media activities. Implementing the data insights helps produce smarter decision making.

However, companies can also become overwhelmed by the sheer volume and velocity of data. Business-related data can become untamed and overgrown. As a result, Gartner estimates that 60 percent of big data projects fail. Here are some ideas on how to survive and thrive in the data jungle.

Prepare for data

To operate successfully in the data jungle, alight how you leverage this data with your IT strategy. This includes implementing the appropriate infrastructure that collects and consolidates data across business functions. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become a welcome development for many SMBs and big enterprise.

It's easily understandable when smaller organizations do data projects. Yet, startups are actually primed to implement such efforts. That's because they can integrate analytics tools in their work without disrupting established workflows or deal with legacy issues. Investing in the right business tools early is the key.

Acquire data skills

You don't need a full-time data team to delve into analytics. But, it helps to have the basic skills to navigate data projects. Thankfully, the rise of self-service analytics empowers companies to work with data and generate insights without advanced expertise. This way, you identify the essential concepts, prevailing practices, and tools available.

There is plenty of material available online. Event-based behavioral analytics and BI platform Cooladata recently launched an extensive wiki that helps improve analytics know-how. The wiki draws from various online sources and covers topics in web analytics, business intelligence for marketing, and vertical-specific ones like e-commerce and gaming analytics.

As a motivation to start an encyclopedia for business intelligence (BI), Cooladata refers to professionals who deal with data on a daily basis. The Cooladata team meet data analysts and marketing technologists that don't how to get fast answers and insights from their available data beyond just measuring their standard KPIs.

Focus on specific problem areas

To get through the data jungle, identify which particular business issue you want solved. Many assume that data and analytics solutions are simply used to track metrics like sales data or visitor traffic. However, the real advantage of analytics goes beyond these usual business concerns. Focusing on specific areas prompts you to explore details that aren't readily seen just by looking at traditional sources like sales summaries and balance sheets.

"Flexible, creative organizations that are able to imagine and deploy new ways of solving problems using analytics will stay ahead of the competition," writes BI expert Carlos Ariza.

For example, e-commerce ventures could focus on specific issues, such as conversion rates. This approach can prompt them to explore traffic sources, demographics, site performance, and customer behavior. Just one of these areas can yield insights to guide a specific marketing campaign or improve a site's user experience. Seeing how long customers take to complete the checkout process could help develop a faster, more user-friendly process.

Visualize and communicate the data

Also, no one likes to stare at boring and complex spreadsheets. Instead of forcing people to review rows and columns numbers, you should convert your data into easy-to-interpret charts and graphs. Today's advanced data discovery and visualization platforms use sophisticated functionalities. These tools help you merge unstructured sources and create interactive visuals across all devices.

For example, companies like Zoomdata unlock new insights from that data jungle, helping you see exactly where you have come from and where you need to go to stay on the right path with your customers and prospects. Simplifying the picture can reveal the "forest for the trees." This can also determine the ideal customer experience solution.

Data visualization tools are also fast for quicker actions. This might involve a rapid pivot in strategic direction.

Learn, refine, and improve

Next, adaptability is key to surviving in the data jungle and becoming a data-driven organization. Don't expect initial attempts to produce the cure-all for your data issues.

Instead, continually refine strategies to address the rapidly changing business environment. Therefore, your company will be better positioned to identify trends that you can act on before the competition.

However, data success ultimately relies on how well you are able to translate these insights into action. Following through on data insights solves long-standing business issues. As a result, you'll come out the other side of the data jungle with knowledge, expertise, and the foresight to please your audience and bottom line.