You may have heard about the importance of data in business. You may even have dismissed it. But it’s crucial that you give data another think. Neglecting to put a focus on data in your business could be a fatal mistake.

Others would prefer to call data in this context business intelligence. Whatever you’re calling it, it’s information that can really give you the edge over the competition. There’s a good reason that the market for data (or business intelligence) is making billions.

The market for data

“Billions!?” I hear you exclaim in disbelief. Yes; in fact, the data industry has been making billions on the back of these business trends for years now. Back in 2012, the business intelligence market raked in a cool $76 billion. Estimates for 2016 hover around the $140-180 billion mark, though we don’t have a final figure yet. (We’re still in 2016, after all.)

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Its relevance to your industry

Some business may look at their company and think that they don’t really need all that data. After all, not every modern business is high-tech. And it’s true that there are plenty of small businesses in more rural areas that might not see much benefit. But it depends on what their ambitions are. In any case, if you’re working in a modern and competitive market, then data is going to be invaluable. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.

This sort of data allows more detail when investigating factors that businesses have always needed to keep an eye on. Keeping accurate track of your competitors? Yep. Understanding how each of your business moves affect your place in the market? Absolutely.

What you’re going to need

Getting all of the data you need isn’t going to be an easy task. In fact, it often requires its own department. Employees who work specifically in data are often called one of two things: data analyst and data scientist. The latter, traditionally, is the one who did a lot of coding and helped build data collecting systems. The analysts are the people who would actually analyze it and communicate information to shareholders. Nowadays, these jobs seem to have merged.

A focus should be put on the world software, there. You’re certainly going to need programs that will assist you. In fact, you’re probably going to need to right hardware for it, too. An analyst will be able to assist you in setting this up at your company. But you may have to look at data centre building first in order to have the correct facility!

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The questions your data should answer

The specific answers a company will need from its data will, of course, vary from business to business. But there are several consistent questions across the business spectrum that your data should answer.

Where exactly should you be pouring more resources? What markets – national or global – should you be aiming for next? Are customers buying your products in any discernable pattern? What demographics are we pleasing most? Just by looking at these questions, it should be obvious to you why a focus on data is so important in business today.

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