Why we need to embrace data to uncover valuable insights
We are living in a digital age, yet it seems too many of us are letting valuable data slip through our fingers.
21 September 2022
Perhaps the most obvious example of data’s value is seen in the staggering growth of the social media giants. Their well-documented rise has seen, sometimes controversially, data used to aid that expansion.
And while data might be their business – all organisations can benefit from better utilising their intel. Understanding and utilising data has far-reaching and diverse applications. But most organisations’ approach to data is at best, patchy. We tend to embrace it in some settings, but not in others.
This is a missed opportunity because we’re not making the most of the information we’re knowingly (or unknowingly) collecting. We’re not comparing, contrasting, and seeking other inputs to make full use of our raw intel.
Put simply, we’re not gaining valuable insights to make the best decisions or realise the best outcomes.
How can data help?
Data is quantifiable evidence. It can shape and influence, complement or provide a point of difference, validate findings, and add weight to analysis. Data helps paint a more complete picture.
I’ll use a challenge that many businesses are facing at the moment as an example – the war for talent. In a market that favours job seekers, companies need to be attractive to potential employees as well as retain staff. But what does that look like, and what is ‘attractive’? The first step in the process would be to understand a company’s current state of play – its culture.
To help form a picture, some of the data inputs could include:
Employment engagement data: these would indicate the level of employee engagement and highlight both what’s working well, as well as opportunities to enhance the employee experience.
Timesheets: these would show how many hours employees are working each day, the mix of days, if employees are exceeding standard work hours, consistently working over weekends and how often, etc.
Employee data: would show things like the average length of employee service and which parts of the business have a better track record of retention. It’d show what benefits are being utilised.
IT data: shows number and length of time spent in online meetings, if people are taking breaks or running back-to-back meetings.
This type of information begins to form a holistic view of an organisation’s culture. It can be bench-marked against best practice and academic research on employee culture and retention.
It allows a company to not just look at its rhetoric but examine the statistics. The data provides quantifiable information that can better inform a company about what is or isn’t working and, perhaps, show where rhetoric is not meeting reality.
From data to analysis
The quality of any data analysis will depend on the quality and quantity of sources. Like most research, you can’t base any findings on a singular piece of information.
Data analysts draw on a range of external sources to provide context and add value to primary data. Sources include the Australian Bureau of Statistics, universities, research organisations, think tanks and financial institutions. Analysts examine historical information, the current state of play and can use sophisticated technology like artificial intelligence to forecast, anticipate and prepare for future scenarios.
From deciding whether to invest billions in a project to producing content that is popular with your audience – data is a valuable ally.
Data + analysis = insights. And these insights help save time, better utilise resources, shape agendas and action, give weight to decisions, and help organisations achieve desired outcomes.
Need support turning data into actionable insights for your business?
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