Best Data Organizing Strategies
By Space Coast Daily // December 21, 2021
Organizing data might sound like a dull task, but when you uncover the amazing technology behind it and the implications for business success, it gets pretty exciting.
Consider this: there is data flowing constantly throughout the ecosystem of any working business, from a billion-dollar insurance agency to a professional sports team, to the donut shop down the street.
That fact has only been amplified by the IT revolution, whereby businesses large and small are confronted with a treasure trove of data larger than ever before.
The question is now a matter of how to best manage all this data, starting with an organizational strategy that actually makes sense.
We asked a group of business leaders how they are tackling the challenge of data organization in this tech-fueled environment, and they had some key insights worth hearing.
Why Organize Data for Business?
To reiterate the importance of a data organization, just think for a moment about the amount of data that can be generated from a single sale or customer interaction.
This type of thought experiment helps us get a ballpark idea of just how much data must be organized for a typical company in any sector.
“From just one point of contact with a customer, you get data that reflects back on every aspect of your business, like a prism,” said Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO of Hightouch. “There is sales and marketing data that tells a story, data about the speed and efficiency of the service, plus any tangible data necessary to resolve the issue or move things forward. Now apply that to large companies, law firms, hospitals, universities, and see that the data issue is simply huge.”
When done correctly, smart data management can lead to massive gains in the speed and agility of the business, while also cutting out unnecessary components.
As the best business minds have discovered, the “flat” structure of today’s organizations allows for more agility, efficiency, and less reliance on bureaucracy to function.
“Information-based organizations need central operating work such as legal counsel, public relations, and labor relations as much as ever, ” said Writer and Consultant Tom Davenport. “But the need for service staff – that is, for people without operating responsibilities who only advise, counsel, or coordinate – shrinks drastically. In its central management, the information-based organization needs few, if any, specialists. Because of its flatter structure, the large, information-based organization will more closely resemble the businesses of a century ago than today’s big companies.”
Data organization isn’t just a nice-to-have strategy anymore – it’s mandatory. This fact is being discovered first-hand by innovators in the ecommerce space in particular.
“The sheer volume of data that must be processed, organized, and analyzed by even a small ecommerce shop is mind-boggling, so no business can skip these strategies at this point, ” said Kevin Miller, Founder of KevinMiller.com. “If you think you get a free pass here, you don’t! No matter the company, the niche, or the size of the operation, data organization needs to be a top priority in 2022 and beyond.”
Define Data Goals – 3 Key Objectives
If this seems vague so far, let’s clarify what three objectives for a data organization strategy might be for an average midsize business with products, services, staff, and customers.
1. Storage and Security
Starting with the bare-bones essentials for data organization, the business needs a place to store the information and make sure it’s safe and secure. There are many ways to go about this.
“Lots of companies used to just stack servers and load endless amounts of data onto this hardware, but that gets cumbersome quickly,” said Steven Vigilante, Head of New Business Development of OLIPOP. “Now, we’re trying to keep things minimal and outsource to cloud services as much as possible. Many services also help structure and secure this data as well, reducing the burden for in-house teams, too.”
2. Accessibility and UX
Not only must the data be housed and protected, but it needs to be made accessible by the right people, at the right time, in a way that is intuitive and supports the flow of operations.
“From enterprise resource planning software to customer relationship management apps, there need to be channels in place for data to travel seamlessly and be in the right spot, ASAP,” said Chris Bridges, CEO of VITAL. “This is where a lot of companies get stuck because there is no cookie-cutter solution for every organization. It really requires a custom game plan and multiple pieces of software implemented concurrently.”
3. Insights and Analytics
All that data needs to serve a purpose, and that means gathering insights from patterns detected by manual means or by AI. Now that so much data is unstructured, this presents new challenges.
“Traditionally, a lot of data science was focused on feeding structured data to data warehouses,” said Kumar Goswami, CEO and Co-Founder of Komprise. “But with 90% of the world’s data becoming unstructured and with the rise of machine learning, which relies on unstructured data, data scientists should broaden their skills to incorporate unstructured data analytics. They need to learn how to glean value from data that has no specific structure or schema and ranges across video files, genomics files, seismic images, IoT data, audio recordings, and user data such as emails.”
Three Strategies for Data Success
With some universal data goals mapped out for us, let’s talk about some practical strategies that project leads can apply and get the data situation handled for their business.
1. Full Audit of Structured and Unstructured Data
It all starts with a massive audit that may take days, weeks, or months to fully complete. However, this is a necessary step to see an enormous payoff after the fact.
“The idea of a data management audit sounds like pulling teeth, but remember that you’re doing this to save yourself so much pain and frustration down the road,” said Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor of Personal Training Pioneer. “There are also ways to streamline the process by hiring consultants and professionals who are like magicians with this stuff, so you can focus on running your business.”
2. Alignment of Business and Data Goals
Just having a bunch of data doesn’t serve much of a purpose. There should be a game plan for how the data fuels business objectives, and vice versa.
“The question at the front of your mind always needs to be: how is this data making my business better, or making life easier for my employees and customers?” said Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “Just sitting on a pile of perfectly-structured data is no better than an unstructured pile if you do nothing with it. Set business goals for yourself that actually matter, whether that’s marketing campaigns, customer service, or just the daily workflow and experience for staff. That’s how the ROI happens in data management.”
3. Finding Strategic Advantages with Data
Here is where competitive analysis and real-time business tactics come into play. Data must be used to outsmart and outmaneuver the competition by detecting patterns and acting on them.
“In many cases, businesses lose head-to-head battles with competitors because they’re too slow on the draw when it comes to analytics,” said Nancy L. Belcher, Ph.D., MPA, and Co-Founder of Winona. “The competition is using data to evolve their products and services, improve customer interactions, reduce risk, and sharpen up their marketing tools. You should be doing the same, so start viewing data as a launchpad to get you ahead in your field.”
How Will Data Strategies Evolve?
We are just at the precipice of the data organization era, with so much more progress to be made.
Companies on the cutting edge of these strategies have a crucial advantage moving forward.
“When it comes to organizing data, I highly recommend adopting the Google Data Studio into your company’s tech stack,” said Rachel Blank, CEO and Founder of Allara. “The software, which is part of the Google Cloud Platform, has everything a business needs to help them make the best use of their data. For one, it’s cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry about running out of storage on a local server. Second, Google has a solid reputation for its user-friendliness, which is why all of its tools are easy to navigate. In fact, your team members are probably already familiar with some Google apps.”
The automation question is certainly at the forefront, but some founders are still focused on simply showing up and doing the work.
“People get a bit hyped on the automation thing, and it will certainly play a role moving forward,” said Daniel Osman, Head of Sales at Balance Homes. “But for the time being, we still need to take an active approach to data management and leave no stone unturned. Leaving it all to AI will likely result in some missed opportunities.”
As some entrepreneurs predict, an entirely new industry of data management solutions is going to emerge sooner than later.
“You have an entire generation of people that are only just now waking up to the importance of data organization and how much it correlates to the bottom line in business,” said Adelle Archer, CEO and Co-Founder of Eterneva. “We’ll definitely be seeing startups focused on helping companies make sense of it all and succeed with data management.”
Who thought that organizing data had such a major impact on sales, marketing, customer service, and the business landscape at large? Keep these concepts in mind moving forward and don’t get left behind as the data revolution takes effect.