In today’s complex world, data is crucial to everything, from increasing productivity and creating digital commerce experiences to building apps. As a result, businesses without robust data management systems can find themselves falling behind when it comes to innovation, customer engagement, and even workforce well-being.
Even though we’re living in an increasingly data-driven world, not all SMEs have the foundation to use their data effectively. This can have a significant impact on productivity. A Gartner Report shows that not having access to high-quality data can affect productivity by as much as 20%.
Let’s look at why data management is essential and how SMEs can manage their data to get the most out of it.
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The importance of data management
The information that high-quality data can provide should be at the centre of decision-making for all SMEs. But data and information are not the same thing. Data first needs to be managed, processed and made meaningful to be turned into information. For this reason, data management is most potent when orientated around a business objective—for instance, increasing revenue or improving customer service.
Businesses should also establish data-driven metrics that will best reflect their progress towards meeting those goals. They’ll also need to balance the rigidity of data governance, which is generally concerned with minimising data risk, with their business objectives, which will likely benefit from proactively leveraging data wherever possible.
Turbo-charging productivity with data
If your SME’s performance is falling short of expectations, it might be because your business doesn’t have access to the data it needs. Or maybe it just isn’t using it in the most efficient way. Data allows companies to hone in on problems and identify inefficient workflows quickly. It can also help with benchmarking, enabling you to compare your business’s performance with your competitors.
Data can also show you if your SME is meeting its goals as well as any pain points. Data is unbiased. It doesn’t tell you what actions you should take but provides you with a birds-eye view that allows you to make decisions from a place of knowledge.
Businesses that haven’t mastered the art of working with data may find that they can’t accurately track top KPIs. They still might not know what to do with the results, even if they can track them. They won’t have a clear picture of their customers and leads. Rogue data sets may still be siloed. They’ll be operating without full visibility. Data is the missing link that can help put struggling businesses on a path to peak productivity.
Five ways to optimise your SME’s data management
When it comes to data management, companies need to ensure they are managing their data carefully and efficiently – then they need to put that data to work. Following these simple strategies can help SMEs reach their potential.
- Put the right technology in place. To be truly data-driven, you need to have the correct technologies. Tools like Tableau and CRM systems can be invaluable in organising and managing data. Regardless of which tools are used, data must be unified, centralised, and stored in clear and intuitive systems accessible whenever, and wherever needed.
- Automate data analysis with AI. All the data in the world won’t help your business if you don’t have a way to extract actionable insights from it. Data analysis can be time-consuming, though, so consider automated solutions that can organise and analyse the data you gather. Some solutions even surface suggestions for the best next actions. You need to make sure you can turn your data into information. And then turn that information into action.
- Embrace data-driven productivity metrics. As we move into a new climate, the traditional ways of measuring workforce productivity are starting to look dated. In today’s fast-paced world, employees don’t create value based purely on how many hours they work or what time they clock in and out. The 40-hour week is being phased out in favour of more flexible solutions. Data can help SMEs measure impact and productivity while also keeping an eye on employee wellbeing. This goes a long way towards creating positive performance loops that set the business up for future success and better long-term relationships.
- Let your data lead you to new solutions. Insights from data can be surprising and often reveal issues that weren’t on a leader’s radar. You might find that the churn rate is unacceptably high. Or that bugs plague customer service areas that you thought were running smoothly. Likewise, data can highlight which processes are running well. You can then learn from your successes and replicate them where possible. Data can even lead businesses to develop new products and services.
- Reimagine sales and marketing. Letting data take the lead can revolutionise how you operate sales and marketing. Insights from data can lead to better personalisation and higher-quality leads. And data can help to quantify the success of campaigns so that you can see exactly which strategies resonate and which need to be tweaked for the future. Even better, data can help create exceptional customer experiences. This is more important than ever in a customer-centric landscape.
Buckle up and go wherever the data takes you
Good data management helps SMEs capture relevant data and access it in a centralised way. It helps businesses find a signal in the noise. And having a Single Source of Truth and ensuring data availability across tools can empower teams with real-time information they can trust. SMEs that fail to put these processes into place may face several challenges. These can range from employees wasting time on outdated leads to customers being alienated by repeat sales calls.
But SMEs that learn to use their information wisely? They are prepared to venture onto new frontiers. They can develop new products and services, put the customer first and build better relationships with the workforce. These companies can go wherever the data takes them.
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