In the past businesses like yours were run on gut instincts, last month’s sales figures and last year’s accounts. These were the most accurate ways to forecast what was coming and business decisions were built on these. Thankfully, today things have changed. And although gut instincts can still play a part, it’s much better to rely on real information, real data. With modern software and data collection we can embrace Business Analytics for better business management.
Having clear information at your fingertips is vital to know what is working (and what’s not) and having it in real-time means you can make changes as and when you need to. By capturing information, processing it into usable data and measuring it against defined metrics you can accurately judge performance.
Today, businesses have the tools they need to do this and can apply processes to focus the generation, capture, analysis and applied reporting on that data.
This is the world of Business Analytics!
What is Business Analytics? The ability to gain insight and drive business planning from meaningful data, usually stored in a CRM.
Why use a specific CRM tool? Because it safely stores your information and allows meaningful business data to be drawn from it.
What information do I need to capture to be able to generate meaningful data? You must understand what information is being collected, where it came from and how it is being stored. Furthermore, you must check the quality age and relevance of the data and determine if anything is missing before you can consider how you will use it for any business advantage.
Will your current tech stack give you meaningful Business Data? It’s difficult to say as each business is unique and its needs different to the next. It is best to work with a Digital Transformation consultant who understands the technology, data, process and culture of your business to make sure your tech stack can fulfil your needs and support your goals.
With the right information being collected and the right tech in place how can data be managed, converted, analysed and applied in the real-world for better business management? You’ll have to read the full article or contact us to find out how your business can use Business Analytics for better business management!
*TLDR – Too Long Didn’t Read
What is Business Analytics?
Business Analytics refers to the process, knowledge, technologies and culture for continuous exploration and investigation of past business actions and performance. Specifically to gain insight and drive business planning.
So why isn’t everyone doing it – well there is a secret.
Want to know what it is?
To make business analytics worthwhile, you and your business need to understand data. More importantly Data Literacy.
Gartner defines Data Literacy as:
The ability to read, write and communicate data in context. This includes an understanding of data sources and constructs; analytical methods and techniques applied; and the ability to describe the use case, the application, and the resulting value.
Let’s break that down and put it into context.
Almost every business will use some form of spreadsheet or database to store and organise information they hold. Lets be specific about the information – its customer information so we are looking at Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data.
More and more businesses are moving to a CRM tool, to perform this role. These allow larger datasets to be more searchable and information to be retrieved easily and quickly. But as you collect more information, you’ll need to be more critical of the tool you are using.
Why use a specific CRM tool over a Spreadsheet?
As you collect and store more data you will need the tool you are using to be;
- Flexible – the needs of your business will evolve, and so will the information you need to collect.
- Accurate – any reports you generate need to originate from your single source of truth.
- Reportable – the information you hold can give you the answers you need.
- Compliant – data laws are also always evolving – you have a legal and ethical obligation to your customers to protect their information.
As your customer base grows, and the information you collect increases, an Excel spreadsheet just won’t be up to the job. If you want to collect information from a variety of sources, even a basic CRM might be reaching its limit. You need a solution that integrates with every aspect of your customer journey and evolves with your business.
What does a dedicated CRM tool with my data?
If you want tools to manage your data (and its degradation over time) and even clean up information to become usable data – you are getting into dedicated CRM tools. These will give your marketing, sales and customer service teams usable leads meaning they don’t waste time or resources with leads that cant be nurtured or converted.
A solution to hold your data as a single source of truth can help your business organise and report on enterprise-wide information. Giving those that need it the most accurate picture possible opening the door to real-time, data driven, decision-making.
Compliance regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or rather The Data Protection Act 2018 , hold you responsible for the security of the data — even when it’s stored in the cloud across different platforms.
So as you can see the spreadsheet has had its day. You really need to be considering a specific CRM tool that offers flexibility, accuracy, reportability and compliance. If you want the benefit of real-time, data driven, decision-making as well you need to be looking at solutions like Zoho CRM, Salesforce, HubSpot, ZenDesk and Microsoft Dynamics to name a few.
Acquiring meaningful data for business analytics
So, you are capturing information from your customers and all touch points with your business. What next?
Well we look to process it into data to better understand your leads, customers and your relationship with them. Once processed we can ask for reports that will inform how well customers are being treated. What products or services are most likely to appeal. When we should interact with leads to most likely convert them to customers. Even why customers might be leaving.
If we ask the CRM system to process the information in the correct way we can get all departments of the business working together. We can create alignment and transparency where there was previously silos. We can move the business forward with data-driven decision-making. And there’s so much more…
But none of this matters if you don’t know what to do with the information you are collecting, or how to convert it to meaningful business data. What are the steps you need to take towards meaningful business data?
- Understand what information is being collected.
- Know where it came from.
- Understand where and how is it being stored.
- Check the quality of the data.
- Decide if anything missing.
- Determine how old the data is.
- Decide if it is still relevant?
If you don’t know the answers to the above then its time to review your technology, process and culture – this might start with an audit of your tech stack.
Will your current tech stack support meaningful Business Data?
As your business evolves you will need to keep an eye on your tech stack – or the software you have chosen to support your business. This includes everything from your office tools, data storage, communications platforms, website, social media channels, digital accountancy platform – you name it. If its hardware, software or SaaS its part of your tech stack and needs to be reviewed regularly as your business evolves.
- Analyse and evaluate the performance of your software – will it do what you want it to do?
- Review your processes against your software – make sure they are aligned!
- Check your culture – does your team know why they are following that process and the benefits it drives?
What to focus on here:
- Understand your software, especially the integrations and the way data flows between systems.
- Audit these integrations to ensure data is being stored and passed between them correctly.
- Identify software solutions that are flexible and scalable – they need to grow with your team and business.
How we can help:
Zoho offer over 50 different business solutions that all integrate with each other, sharing data from a single source of truth and enabling every business function to work together across your entire enterprise. But more than that. Zoho’s solutions are founded on integrations, third-party and bespoke integrations as well as its own suite of products.
This means, for example, Zoho Analytics can take a feed from your existing CRM, process the information into meaningful business data, report, analyse and relay that data in a meaningful way. This gives you everything you need to make the best business decisions, based on real-time data from across your business.
Managing Your Business Data
Ok – time for some honest reflection here.
Do you collect information on your leads, prospects, and customers?
Are you willing to trust and report on it?
Would you be willing to make decisions based on it?
No? Then you don’t really have data. You have a problem.
Storing data of variable quality, or age, in disparate systems hides its true value from your business. At best, this will create duplicate effort and waste valuable time across all departments. At worst, it leaves you and your business at risk for data compliance and security issues in the long run. You don’t want any of these to become a reality.
Managing your business data relies on you, or your systems consolidated, organising, and keeping it clean it over time. This behaviour will lead to data consistency. And consistent data behaviour can lead to process automation and high quality, real-time data you can trust and use to make informed business decisions.
What to focus on here:
- Understand how your data is structured within the systems in your tech stack.
- Identify how and where meaningful business data is being stored.
- Audit your solutions to ensure your data is “clean”.
- Determine if any automated solutions could help manage your processes.
How we can help:
Zoho CRM and Zoho Analytics both accepts data from multiple sources. This means automating the capture of information with as little processing as possible, from as wide variety of sources as possible. After our Discovery Workshop we will understand your business goals, processes and as we have a deep understanding of the technologies available we can advise the best information to capture, from the most suitable locations from across your business touch points. Most importantly with as little ‘interference’ as possible, meaning the data is kept clean and input to your solution minimising any chance of inconsistencies.
These conditions enable up-to-date, useable, trustworthy and relevant data to be collected. Data you can rely on to drive real-time, data-driven, decision-making.
Interpreting data into business analytics
Ok, so this is the crux of it. You now trust your data.
It’s “clean”, reliable, recent and appropriate. It’s managed correctly and shared across your business. Do you have the ability to interpret this data in a meaningful way?
Here is where its gets interesting – Reports and Analytics.
Convert your business data into meaningful Reports
Reports tell you what is happening and help you transform information into usable data and display it in an easy-to-understand format.
Most sales teams will want to see the number of closed deals compared to the number of prospects or leads. Or maybe a trend in particular products or services across the year.
Your marketing team might want to look at sales figures in key demographics after an advertising campaign – did it generate the traffic that was expected?
More and more service departments want to see success rates and best communications channels to help create FAQs or automated response tools.
Reporting helps you understand performance in each sector and across the business. It can drive targets and clarify KPIs for each department and give valuable insight on how your initiatives are performing.
Convert your business data into Business Analytics insight
Similarly, analytics focuses on exploring and interpreting data or reports in order to glean valuable insight as to why certain trends happened the way they did — this information helps you create replicable processes. The key to mastering this competency is fully understanding how your reporting tools work. Knowing when and where to find the answers you’re looking for is key.
What to focus on here:
- Implement best practices of data visualisation
- Report on effectiveness and efficiency of your team(s)
- Analyse your performance of your initiatives against the business goals you’ve set
How we can help:
We are experts on business technology, data, process and culture. Our Discovery Workshop ensures we work with you to become experts on how your business can benefit from the best in each of these fields. As a result we are uniquely positioned to ensure you are not just collecting meaningful business data but it gets converted into easily digestible, clear, concise reports so you can see in real-time what is happening in your business. Moreover, Zoho has inbuilt business intelligence that we can use to deliver insights on this data.
As a result not only will you be able to understand information collated from across your tech stack and have real-time reports to reflect the current performance of your business against your KPIs and goals. You will also be able to analyse performance against business goals and identify trends, events and behaviours of your team and your customers. The answers are really at your fingertips.
Applying Business Analytics in the real-world
The goal is not (just) to have an accurate report, or a fancy colourful dashboard. You need to be able to translate these to actions that will launch your business to the next level.
It’s not enough to have data. You need to translate and use it to inspire conversations that lead to action. In other words, what are you doing with the trends you’ve uncovered? How are you putting your data into action?
Effective application is about fostering a data-driven culture at your company. It is not enough for a company to have just one person work with and implement data analysis. If that were the case, hiring a single data scientist would be sufficient — and it’s not.
How do you create a community around data? Creating a community around data means establishing a culture where people are not only driven by results but are also driven by learning. This means teams not only looking to adapt but also innovate around the needs of the customer. Data is an exciting, renewable resource for growth and ingenuity, but only when it’s used widely and consistently.
What to focus on here:
- Presenting a compelling argument
- Share key information with your team, manager, and stakeholders
- Plan next steps and what you’re going to do next with the insights you’ve uncovered
How we can help:
We understand the ever-changing nature of technology and how business have implemented it over the last 20+ years. As such our projects never finish when we ‘hand over the keys’ to a new system. We make sure your team know how to use it and why. Our own philosophy is based around community and as such we know its the best way to get the most from your technology, data and processes, especially once you start your Digital Transformation. We also know this change never ends, rather it evolves as your business grows to continue to give you the tools you need to reach and exceed your business goals.
To find out more about meaningful Business Data and what it means for Business Analytics get in touch. Alternatively, if you are local to Hastings, come down for a chat and a coffee at our Think Tank and find out how we can help you launch your business to the next level.