5 most common signs your organisation has a data problem

Implementing data analytics or business intelligence solutions is one of the most common goals for organisations.  Every business appreciates there is value in data and that it is important to leverage it to create an edge on their competitors.  The benefits of business intelligence solutions have been well understood for many years.  Why then, have so few organisations been able to successfully implement a solution?  Below are the 5 most common signs your organisation has a data problem:

You have loads of data but not much information

The point of data is to collect it in a way that helps you make the best possible decisions when you need to.  Software solutions should let you capture data, blend it all together, and then let staff consume it in a way that they want.  The speed at which a business can successfully do this determines the speed at which they do business.

But just having lots of operational data is simply not enough.  There is not value in collecting and organising data on customers, products, staff and so on if there is no ability for decision makers to understand what it all means.

Data needs context.

A business dashboard provides a layer context to data that gives the audience the visibility they need.  A dashboard is an excellent method of collating, blending and presenting data in a meaningful and insightful way.  A way that the audience can quickly understand and base decisions on.

Dashboards are more than just a presentation layer as they allow the audience to interrogate the data and effectively get specific answers to their own question.

You use Excel for virtually everything

Excel is just so easy to use, and so accessible to all that it is the place to go when people want to analyse or review data.  And to be frank, it does some very clever things so it makes sense to use it for analysing or graphing data.

Like almost every firm out there you’ve probably got a whole bunch of these files on your server.  How many Book1.xls do you have?

The major problem with using Excel is that it doesn’t share very nicely.  When more than one person starts to collaborate on an Excel file there is a high risk that copies or versions of this file become out of sync.  Obviously, the online version of Excel dampens the impact of this somewhat.  But you still have to contend with those clever mavericks that ‘were only trying to make it better’ or worse.  Or that team member who didn’t realise they’d deleted that tab from the main version everyone else was using.

Another major problem with Excel is that it’s not robust.  It is incredibly hard to create and implement rules around data in Excel.  If you’ve created something quick and dirty it is very easy for someone to break it or change the formulas.

So while Excel is flexible, versatile and packed with analytical features, it lacks the data governance and data quality you need in your organisation

Your different data sources aren’t linked

Is your organisational data integrated? By this I mean, is your accounts data connected to your sales data? Is your HR data connected to your revenue data? Does your CRM talk to payroll?

Remember the Filofax? (Bear with me on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filofax)

At the time, it was revolutionary.  All your contacts, appointments and other life critical information in one leather bound ring binder that could almost fit in your pocket.  Then the internet came along and made life so much easier.  The smartphone does everything the Filofax did and so much more.  It’s your life in the palm of your hand, and you’d be lost without it.

But if you think about it, the smartphone still fulfils the same purpose as the Filofax.  All your events and contacts in one place.  The main difference is that everything is integrated and automated.  Smartphones can automatically put invites into your calendar and then provide dynamic alerts to tell you when to leave, so you get there on time.  They tell you what to do when you arrive or show you your meeting attendees contacts card with the history of your previous meetings.

This is a key sign your organisation has a data problem.

You spend way too much time manually creating reports

We all know the feeling of dread that can accompany month-end reporting. There’s that last minute panic to get everything done and the stress of having to source and reconcile the right data. Then the constant vowing – every month – that you’ll be far more organised next time. Once the dust has settled, you’re left wondering how on earth you can cut your month-end reporting time in half.

For most businesses, the problem with reporting is quite simple. It’s manual. There is a lack of consistent, easily accessible, compatible data. Rather than being able to extract data from a single source, quickly and easily, those poor souls responsible for reporting are forced to spend days manually extracting data. As well as, cross-referencing, and reconciling information, time, and time again.

Imagine an organisation with a central reporting tool that is connected to an organisation wide data set. A tool that allows every user to quickly create reports based on templates or standards in a matter of seconds.

You’re not ready for Artificial Intelligence

AI or Artificial Intelligence is a field of computer science that involves the use of computers to solve problems using “intelligence.” There is an abundance of reasons to use AI for your organisation. They all lead to increased profitability.

What is AI?

Any organisation can benefit from AI right now. Yet, there’s a reluctance in most organisations that prevents them from acting. In my experience, there’s a belief that AI is complex and will, therefore, be difficult to implement. Fortunately, it’s very simple. While the mathematics under the hood is very complex, there is an abundance of tools and software packages that you can use to implement AI without needing to know how it works. But before you go and spend millions on something like IBM’s Watson, you need to have your data organised and quality controlled.

Do you think your organisation has a data problem?

I consider these to be the 5 most common signs your organisation has a data problem. Did any of these resonate?

For many businesses, data analytics can seem like an intimidating prospect, and a “nice to have” rather than a “must have”. Despite becoming increasingly essential in maintaining a competitive advantage, the importance of being a data driven organisation is sometimes misunderstood.

Most companies are really interested in the idea of business intelligence and data analytics, but the truth is while they are busy thinking about it, they are doing very little about it.

Many are still dipping their toe in the deep end, wondering whether or not to jump in.

So, if you’ve not already made the leap to becoming a data driven organisation, now is the time.