We live in a data-centric society, where the majority of the population track data throughout the day. Whether you wear a fitness tracker that lets you know about the number of steps you’ve walked and the calorie expenditure related to it, or whether you’re keen to check whether your latest Instagram post has received much love from the online community, monitoring data has become a daily occurrence. The typical user builds a close relationship to these snippets of information, monitoring their performance closely as they go through the motion of the day.
There is no denying that more and more people want to know more about their activities. Gathering metrics is a way of observing your performance objectively. But, while data are everywhere, our relationship to them is ineffective. Most data-tracking tools enable users to share their results with their community, whether they automatically showcase the number of likes or followers on social media or allow users to publish their fitness metrics online. However, our individual data obsession is rarely linked to a strategy of self-improvement. In fact, we tend to share data for the sake of sharing a number, with no further strategic commitment.
Today, John ran 8 miles.
My social media post has received 110 likes.
But the real question you want to ask is: Why does it matter? Indeed, as we slowly turn into data collectors, we are failing to create a data-centric decision process that not only puts data at the heart of strategies but that also extracts a lesson from the basic facts. Individuals and SMEs share the same struggle when it comes to making the most of their data.
Because you don’t use data
The simple fact that data are everywhere doesn’t mean that everybody uses them. You’d be surprised to know that most small businesses, even though they often have data tracking tools, do not use any of the information collected. The first rule of data-centric decisions is to understand what difference having and using data can make in your day-to-day activities. Indeed, it’s a practical way of identifying mistakes in your operations, which means that you can promote growth by moving away from ineffective choices. Similarly, data also let you know what you’re doing right so that you can stick to your most successful campaigns for growth. Ultimately, those snippets of information are meaningless if you don’t make them part of your business process.
Because you don’t understand the tools
Some of the most common data gathering tools are free, such as Google Analytics or even social media analytics. However, they remain a mystery for many professionals who have never been confronted with the jargon and the logistics of tracking tools. Google Analytics, for instance, has launched the Analytics Academy to encourage users to understand how the tool works. Indeed, anybody who is new to the world of web traffic metrics might find it overwhelming at first to navigate the complexity of the Google Analytics platform. Indeed, the dashboard was first created by web developers, and even though it remains a user-friendly environment, without training, there is no denying that many users might struggle to get to the right information. For instance, one of the most common issues that new users have with the tools is conversion tracking. Indeed, Google Analytics can offer an elaborate analysis of your marketing campaigns, but only if you know how to set it to monitor the campaign in the first place.
Because you can’t bring together multiple sources
A large company can use over one hundred different data recording tools. While small companies may not have the same range of data needs, most use on average 20 to 30 different tools. Some of these tools track individual data, which only becomes meaningful if you can combine it to further information. However, while it’s easy to mentally compare two sets of data, when you’ve got tools that provide you with entire databases of facts and metrics, the mind is unable to bring separate schemas together. Indeed, without an effective a database schema compare tool that lets you know not only how each database is constructed but also how to compare different structures together, you cannot combine information from various sources.
Because you don’t have time to interpret
There is no data without a data report. Most of us are familiar with spreadsheets and dashboards. Indeed, many businesses have established a reporting routine that includes the creation of a daily, weekly or monthly report – typically as an Excel table, but the dashboard format is also an option. What do you do with a data report? SMEs employees admit that their data engagement doesn’t go beyond getting familiar with the information. However, reading the report doesn’t provide you with the solution you need. The report is only the breakdown of the collected metrics. If you don’t work with a professional analyst to make sense of your data, the report is useless.
Because you use the wrong data
Collecting data doesn’t mean that you’re ready to hit the ground running as soon as you get to interpret the metrics. Small companies, which often favor a DIY approach to data collecting tools, are at risk of recording inaccurate data as a result of setting errors. Indeed, failing to customize your tracking tool to monitor each individual campaigns on Google Analytics, for instance, can leave you with no information about the performance of each activity. Similarly, not creating a tracking system to monitor offline campaigns can also false your results.
Because you use too much data
As more and more SMEs realize the importance of data, they multiply the use of data recording tools. However, this practice comes at a risk. Dealing with data records can be overwhelming. If your business isn’t equipped to handle large volumes of data, you might find yourself struggling to drill down to the most relevant information for your decision-making process.
In a data-centric world where companies have agreed to put data at the core of their business processes, the struggle to record, analyze, interpret, and utilize data appropriately is real. Too many businesses hit a brick wall when they make a move towards a data-focused environment. There’s no miracle solution; if you’re going to work with data, you need a data expert in-house to guide you through the motion.