In today’s data-driven world, the right information combined with the know-how to put it to good use can be more valuable than gold.
That’s why the biggest companies in the world don’t think of data as just numbers on a spreadsheet. They think of data as an asset—the same as money or property or manpower. Just like any other business asset, careful management and investment into your data strategy can yield future economic benefit. While all companies big and small create, capture, and disseminate data in some manner, not every company views data through this lens. And that’s a problem.
Failing to recognize data as an organizational asset is the same as leaving money on the table or paying a lease on an empty storefront. It’s all just wasted potential.
Take a cue from one of the most successful data-gathering entities in the world—Amazon. Amazon not only has access to vast amounts of customer data, it also invests billions of dollars and countless resources to make the most of the data they have. Although Amazon certainly has an advantage in terms of volume of data, their real competitive edge comes from the way they view and approach the raw data to which they have access.
You don’t have to be as big as Amazon, however, to start putting your own data to work.
Data as an Asset
Some data is unstructured—like emails, Instagram post reactions, and text messages—and other data is fully structured—like database entries. Just because some data is less formally structured does not mean that it’s less important. A Facebook message can provide just as much valuable insight as a web sign-up that was captured by the organization’s business system.
Successful companies see the value of all data, even when it comes from less conventional sources. That’s why every business should have a system in place to capture, store, and analyze these more informal sources of data.
When you start to view data as an asset, you begin to see the importance of properly tracking and categorizing each and every piece of valuable information. Businesses keep impeccable records of revenue, employee timesheets, and inventory. Why should it be any different for this vital asset?
Capturing Valuable Data
Data collection and categorization can be as simple as maintaining Excel spreadsheets for basic inventory or be as comprehensive as using Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) for improved decision-making capabilities, and with the low cost of storage and the high speed of communication, businesses can afford to capture practically every piece of information that their business operation generates. Currently, businesses can download open source database management systems like PostgreSQL or MySQL Server or use cloud-based services that are practically free.
Not only is it affordable, it also makes sense. To understand relationships among and between pieces of data, all potentially relevant information needs to be captured since the relationships may not be initially visible. Therefore, assuming that certain data is unimportant can be shortsighted and may even prove to be costly. Given the low cost of investment and the high potential, the decision to capture as much information as possible is easy.
Just remember that, much like any other asset, your data should be kept secure. Invest in security measures to keep your assets from falling into the wrong hands.
Whatever method you use for storing and categorizing data, it’s important to note that the raw data is only as good as what you can do with it. Think of it this way: you can have the best, most-state-of-the-art machinery, but if you don’t know how to use it, you won’t be successful. The same goes for data or for any other valuable asset. If you don’t have a strategy for putting your assets to good use, you’re missing out on potential profits.
Evaluating Your Own Approach to Data
Gaining insights through your data is the key to building a competitive advantage. Conversely, failing to use data in the right way will leave you lagging behind your competitors. To see how you rank, try taking this quiz offered by Liaison Technologies. Then, ask yourself, “What am I doing with all the data I’m collecting?”
Is it just sitting in storage somewhere in the cloud? Or are you integrating it into your overall decision-making process?
What makes companies like Amazon and Google so successful is not only their access to vast amounts of data, but also their ability to put it to good use. Just like you would invest in any other asset, successful companies invest in systems that allow them to gather intelligence quicker and more efficiently. With a wise use of knowledge resources, these companies are able to reap the benefits of their information strength.
So, it’s time to start treating data like the valuable asset that it is. Invest in data capture and analysis, and you’ll see an incredible return on investment.