In industry, we have been hearing a lot about big data. It's undeniable that all businesses generate data but the skill of organising, visualising and communicating this information is an entirely different story. Carl Plant explains his five steps to gaining valuable insights through data
Even as far back as 12,000 years ago, visual tools were being used to communicate data. Back then, it was cave paintings, like the ones found in the Lascaux caves in France. Carefully painted onto cave walls, drawings of star patterns were used to aid navigation at night. A slightly less sophisticated Google Maps, if you will. Ever since, we’ve continued to use visual aids to help us understand information, but today’s complex data sets require more refined tools.
Particularly in industry, we’ve been hearing a lot about big data. While it’s undeniable that all businesses generate data, the ability to organise, visualise and communicate this information is an entirely different story. Here, I explain the five steps to gaining effective insights through data.
1. Create a strategy
A business strategy is something no modern enterprise can do without. In fact, organisations often implement similar strategies across numerous departments, with marketing, logistics and recruitment taking centre stage. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for data management.
To take control, an organisation must highlight what kind of data is useful to it, what tactics or software is being used to capture the information and ultimately, how it can use this data to its advantage.
2. Educate yourself
Undoubtedly, the thought of shifting through paperwork and staring at spreadsheets fills most of us with dread, but what’s the use of collecting data if the information is left to gather dust? The more data an organisation collects, the more things it can use it for. For example, if a manufacturer discovers through data analysis that its energy efficiency has dropped substantially, it could use production data to correct the problem. Without data analysis, this issue may not have even been identified in the first place.
3. Time to analyse
Analysing data isn’t always the long-winded, complicated procedure it’s perceived to be. Today, digital tools and software allow organisations to access and read data in much simpler ways. Analysed correctly, organisational data can be used to identify new business models, influence organisational decisions and improve operations. It just takes a little patience.
4. Let’s get visual
While it’s true that traditional spreadsheets, graphs and charts are an option, they certainly aren’t the most engaging. When it comes to data visualisation, there are numerous options out there for organisations to use, both free and paid for. Online tool Tableau for example, offers drag and drop data analysis, enabling organisations to connect and visualise data in a matter of minutes.
5. Teach everybody else
By simplifying and visualising data, you’re already on the right track to engaging your employees, customers and stakeholders. What’s important is that you take this organisational information and use it to tell a story or solve a problem. From there you can discuss the findings, take suggestions and implement the appropriate changes.
By taking your visual reports and making them accessible online, or on your company intranet you can encourage KPIs, set new business models and even highlight flaws in the current structure of the business; none of which would be possible without data collection and visualisation.
For many organisations, data isn’t just big, it’s huge. As data becomes more complicated, visualisation and communication must become simpler. bITjAM can help your organisation create intelligent and informative reports using interactive technology. Ultimately, helping you to engage and communicate with your staff, stakeholders and customers, without a spreadsheet - or cave painting - in sight.
Carl Plant is CEO of digital technology expert bITjAM.