Didn’t catch the beginning of our Data blog series? Read ‘Part 1: 3 Reasons why Data is here to stay’ here.

Data, data and more data.

So far, this blog series has covered everything from “big data” and where to find data, to why data is important. Today’s topic will delve into using data to proactively grow your business (although the same steps will likely be taken if you are using data to react to a workplace problem, as well).

three steps to growing your business with data

Here are the first three steps to growing your business with data:

Identify a problem area or an area that you would like to grow

Notice I said “a” problem area, not “some” problem areas. When you’re about to begin the data collection process, it is important to start small. It can be so easy to get caught up in the trap of collecting every type of data and wanting to make lots of monumental changes all at once, but I would encourage you to take baby steps. Be realistic in your expectations, with an awareness that not only does data need to be collected – it needs to be stored, analyzed and acted upon.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Decide how data will be collected, managed, and stored.

Is your company equipped with the software and hardware required to collect data? One of the three steps to growing your business with data includes determining how your business will collect, manage and store data. Consult with a reputable data collection vendor, if necessary. Chances are, you won’t need much to get the data you need. Be sure to plan ahead so that you don’t end up with lots of data and nothing to do with it. An example of this is the rapid growth of police body camera usage. Departments have hurried to outfit their officers with cameras and collect massive amounts of video data. But then suddenly, they had countless hours of video footage that had to be viewed, analyzed and stored, as well as many issues to address related to the retention and release of recorded data. Have a plan for after your data has been collected.

*Expert Tip* Use data that you might already have! Consider reports that your organization already has developed. These reports contain data that can provide invaluable insight into the operations of your organization!

Analyze and act on the data to make improvements.

The data may report exactly what you expected – or it may surprise you. Either way, don’t just let the data sit there collecting dust. Take steps to implement change. Depending on the results, you may want to reorganize the way your employees are distributed in the company or perhaps you may want to invest in some updated software to achieve the level of efficiency you’re after. Remember – you can’t argue with data. If data shows there is an area of deficiency, improve it! Your bottom line will thank you later.