90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Mind boggling!  Of course, we are getting buried in data and aren’t sure how to dig our way out and leverage for success.

If you just think about your first few hours after waking up in the morning, you’ve received millions of messages and data:  1) News reports from the radio.  2) Text messages and emails on your phone.  3) Most likely you’ve driven by billboard messages on your way to work.  4) The TV might have been on in the background while getting ready for work.  5) People are calling on the phone.  6) Nightly reports arrived in your inbox.  7) Customer orders came in overnight.  8) Your machines have provided data on breakdowns, waste etc.  9) And more….  

How can we dig our way out of all this data?  As with almost everything in business, the key is which data to prioritize.  Have you thought about the strategic use of data?  Here is a short clip of me answering a question on the strategic use of data at an Amazon Effect panel at the Manufacturers Summit:


A few insights into digging your way out of data:

  1. Leverage technology – Don’t manually try to dig your way out of data.  After all, if 80% of the world’s data has been created in two years, there is no hope to dig yourself out byte by byte.  Employ the appropriate use of technology to synthesize data. For example, slice, dice, and analyze data with business intelligence (BI) systems.
  2. Remember, garbage in, garbage out – Just because you put a fancy collection system in place does not mean you are collecting valuable data.  Perhaps you are just collecting garbage.  Develop processes to quickly assess the gems from the junk.
  3. Directionally correct – We are known for using this phrase because we find it is core to success especially when it comes to data.  Don’t even think about making sense of every byte.  Gain a directionally correct conclusion and make progress.
  4. Slice and dice– Data alone is “too much”.  Set your data up so that you can slice and dice the data to dig into what is meaningful for your business.  For example, if you plan to grow in the northeast by 25%, start with the sales growth figure.  Then, view it by state or customer.  Check the largest increases and decreases in more detail – are there certain customers or items that are over or under performing?  Etc.
  5. Take the bird’s eye view – We cannot tell you how many clients end up with a great-looking report that doesn’t “add up” – not necessarily in the literal sense but in whether the information makes sense in conjunction with other indicators.  Take a step back and ask questions to make sure it “adds up”.

Our most successful clients pay attention to data.  A few years ago, an award-winning company asked us to help with a SIOP (sales and operations planning process) and an ERP selection process.  They were fanatics when it came to analyzing sales data.  It certainly seemed to correlate to part of their success.  If you need help thinking through your data strategy, contact us.