Data and the Business

23 Jun 2020
Article by : 
Gaone Mothobi

Did you know that, according to IBM, we create roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily? Way more than half of the world's data has been amassed within just the last decade. All this information comes from an array of sources like social media, government, health records, businesses etc. That is a tremendous amount of intelligence that continues to grow exponentially and is referred to as Big Data. It goes without saying that managing loads of data is a bit intimidating and challenging. Despite this, putting efforts into analyzing and deriving value from it presents an irrefutable advantage to any type of entity. Investing in Data Analytics is beneficial for several reasons.

When I was first introduced to business studies in junior school, we were taught about business resources and data was surely not highlighted among them. That was a little more than ten years ago and the business environment has made great strides since then. These advancements include technology that makes it easier to create, collect and store data. Every business, big or small, creates this data on a daily basis which unfortunately, is not fully used. For example, let's say you purchase a recently launched product and the seller requires your personal information including residential address. This piece of data may seem insignificant and may sit unused together with data from other customers. If the seller however decides to compile and analyze this residential address dataset, they can get insights like where a majority of them reside. These insights can influence decisions like adding more billboards to areas where less customers are found as a marketing strategy or advising the engineering team to place more technical support staff in areas where more customers are based for quicker response to customer queries. Intelligence that is unrelated to revenue generation may also impact non-profit oriented business strategies. For example, if the largest demographic in a company's client database is women,it may lead the company to direct a majority of it's Corporate Social Responsibility efforts into women empowerment programs and hence addressing issues that are of the most value to its clientele. In essence, proper and legal use of customer information can foster a mutual benefit for the consumers and businesses through better customer experience and consequently better revenue.

Social media statistics can also help management make smarter business moves. For example, a business may decide to postpone the launch of a new product after analyzing social media Behavioral data (derived from user activities like posts and likes) which may have shown that a lot of people are displeased with the company after a recent recall of one of its existing products for, maybe, health concerns. Chances are high that the new product might not be well received as sentiments and perceptions by the target market are currently unfavorable. By frequently checking 'informal and unstructured' data of what your market is up to and how they view your products, you stand a better chance of responding accordingly to their current needs,wants and concerns. This is great for managing both the product life cycle and public relations.

Data analyses can also greatly improve the management of human resources through people analytics. For example, in a company facing a troublesome turnover rate of high performers, the profiles of talents that have already left may be analysed to find similarities between them that may be driving them out of the company. Let's say this historical data insights show that most of them are millennials who have been with the company for an average of 4 years in the same job position; this may possibly suggest that they are leaving the company for career advancement opportunities. This information can ultimately be used to predict who might leave the company next. With this knowledge, it's easier to make decisions like who to promote first and when to promote them as an effort to retain talented staff. In change management, Organizational Network Analysis can help establish which employees can help facilitate organizational change in both their formal and informal capacities based on how they connect with others in the company. Although indirect, people analytics can greatly maximize revenue through increasing operational efficiency.

Times have changed and it is time to lead businesses with more data-driven decisions rather than just instinct and acumen. In a country like Botswana, it is extremely imperative to try to find greater value in its challengingly small market. Data analytics is the answer and an untapped goldmine for our budding economy. Basic data analytics skills should therefore not only be reserved for a few personnel in businesses but for all employees since any data they work with, in their specific departments, can be used to increase the competitive advantage of any type of business. Today, think about how the data you collect regularly (no matter how insignificant it seems) can improve your work and the company you work for.