Smiling woman with work mates sitting at desks with computers behind her

It’s time to become data confident

The CBI Tech Tracker 2020 report (published Dec 2020) suggests that a divide is growing between businesses that are confident using data and those that are not.

Those that are confident frequently use data to shape decisions, give feedback on products and services, and optimise operations.  Unsurprisingly this gives them an edge.  They can be quick to see issues and opportunities and quick to respond.

This makes them more optimistic about the future and better able to grow than businesses less able to access and use data.  They are also likely to have active strategies in place for adopting new technology and re-working processes in order to take full advantage of it.

But the number of businesses genuinely data confident is still relatively small. E.g. from the respondents to the CBI Tech Tracker survey:

A full 61% are already investing in data analytics technology.  But less than half  (43%) are happy with their ability to maximise the value of their data.   And just 11% make full use of their data to improve process efficiency.

The biggest obstacle is a lack of the technical, managerial and leadership skills needed.  It’s not enough to purchase technology and assume that the benefits from using it will materialise.  It will make data more accessible but, without a clear vision for using that data, it will deliver little for the investment made.

But the need for businesses to be data confident is going to keep on growing as the advantages from being so become increasingly apparent.   Yet, for businesses still to set out on this journey, the whole venture can appear to be fraught with uncertainty:

Do we know how data might improve operations?
Is our data good enough?
How much will it cost to build or find the right skills?
What technology do we need and what will it cost?

With that said, those who are still at the early stages have a key advantage over those who started earlier even though they may be further ahead.  They can learn from the experience of those going before them and avoid hitting the same obstacles.  And that will make their rate of progress all more quicker. For example:

1.  Have belief in your data from the start even though it may be far from perfect. Yes, your data maybe inconsistent, incomplete and lacking integrity, but it is still a gold mine of information about your customers and operations.  By making a start you will get value from your data from the start and you will discover that you can live with a great many of its imperfections.  You will therefore avoid the expensive and time consuming data cleansing project that your competitors may have undertaken.

2.  Turn business problems into questions – and keep working each question until you can say ‘the answer to this is exactly what we need’. Then focus on finding the data capable of giving you the answer.  You will then avoid the time and the effort spent by those who collect lots of data before pinning down the question that needs to be answered.

3.  Shape training around a real business problem. A deep understanding of data and the technology that will put it to use can only come from hard earned experience.   If you take the time to create a training experience based upon work to solve a real business problem you will quickly build skills within your team that are rare (and therefore expensive to purchase) and highly relevant to the business moving forward.

There are many other ways in which you can side-step the challenges faced by others and start to build data confidence within your team without it costing a fortune and taking an age.

If you would like to know more about building data confidence on your business then please give us a call.

Paul Clarke
0333 301 0302