As the Digital Age advances unopposed, the fields of big data and analytics advance with it, bringing more and more information to bear on even the most mundane business practices and decisions. From finding out that cold calls are more effective during snowstorms to ascertaining when women are more likely to shop for shoes, more information is supposed to yield better and better business, and bigger and better profits — or so the promise goes.
While it’s true that information, if understood well and applied correctly, can be an asset in business, there are a number of impediments that even the best intelligence can’t overcome. Here are six reasons why more information won’t necessarily make for better business, and what to do about it.
1. The Info Is Poorly Presented
The best information is only as good as the medium in which it’s presented, which means: If you aren’t making use of cutting edge reporting software, such as that offered by Windward, you’re probably struggling to tell the forest from the trees. Don’t succumb to information overload. Organizing data well is just as important as getting good data. Improve your reporting methods, or the information you’re trying so hard to get a hold of will never be something you can meaningfully apply.
2. It’s Used to Make Decisions
What’s the use of information if it doesn’t inform your decision-making? At first glance, big data and analytics can look like exactly the kind of tool that makes bad decisions a part of the past. However, if all an organization does with its new, impressively large truckload of data is use it to support or negate the kinds of decisions that were already being made, then the advantages of big data and analytics can’t be fully utilized. Instead, the information should first be applied to transforming the types of decisions being made and the ways in which they’re carried out.
3. Shakeups Are Avoided
Another reason information might not be improving your business is because you’re too invested in the status quo to let the information you’re gleaning result in a shakeup. Oftentimes, big data and analytics grant significant insight about how you do business, and it can be disconcerting to learn what’s working and what’s not — especially if what’s not working is structural or closely related to behavior or systems that have been in place for a while. If you’ve been chasing the big data promise, and you’re discouraged about how little it’s yielded in relation to ROI, the problem may be that you’re resisting what is being asked of you. Entire departments may need to shift how they’ve been functioning or disappear entirely. Personnel may need to be radically reassessed. Open your mind up to the possibility that a shakeup may be what your organization needs, or the information you’re gathering might be unable to have any positive effects.
4. The Wrong Questions Are Asked
When most people sign up for big data and analytics, they assume what they’re signing up for is answers. It turns out that the questions asked are just as important as the answers sought. Indeed, in many cases, they’re more important than the answers sought. Analytics and the information that’s now available to organizations need a context in which to flourish and inform. The questions brought to bear matter a great deal. If you think you already know what questions need answering before you get your information, your business won’t benefit as much as it could. It’s essential that your organization remain open to asking new and different kinds of questions of the data you’re gathering.
5. Your Business Isn’t Unique
It isn’t just organizations seeking returns from analytics that need to be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors; every enterprise needs to stake out a unique space in order to survive today’s business environment. Whether it’s your product, your service, or the customer experience provided, no amount of information will be able to overcome a business model that’s too similar to others’. Additionally, any model that’s different but is unable to articulate its difference will fail as well — regardless of the information supplied.
6. You Don’t Have the Money to Implement Necessary Changes
One of the most discouraging parts of receiving good, timely, and rich data about your organization or the marketplace is realizing you don’t have the necessary capital to implement the changes being asked of you. More information, if it can’t be applied, is just that: more information. Before you invest in analytics and big data, make sure you have a plan in place to then invest the necessary cash that will make learning anything at all worthwhile.
Information has never been more thorough and more available, but if you don’t know how to use it — or you’re unable to — it will never result in better business.
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