Data Analytics; Are We There Yet?

Nancy Anderson
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Data analytics is nothing new. It is, however, being increasingly employed by companies to identify opportunities, both within corporate personnel frameworks and on the sales end of the business spectrum. Companies can track consumer spending habits, career promotion trends and potential advertising solutions using data analytics, and then forge plans based on the results.

Data analytics by itself doesn't represent the end of the journey. Instead, data analysis represents a means to an end. Business planning is a three-stage process and data analytics sits neatly in the middle. The initial stage is always data gathering, while forward planning is the end stage.

Some pundits compare data analytics to the inner workings of a GPS system, which translates traffic, mapping and other data into a useful format. You have to plan your own journey — but the data you need to get from A to B effectively has been combined in a useful little black box. Similarly, data analytics in your business might revolve around finding seasonal variances in T-shirt sales or examining how severe weather impacts taxi usage.

Because of the sheer amount of data out there, data analytics lives within an ever-developing framework. The types of data available today may be different than the types of data available tomorrow, next week or next year. Therefore, the algorithms used to interpret data patterns and the potential comparisons that can be made between two data sets constantly change.

The good news is this: Your business can use data analytics in its current form to excel. If you can get to know your customers and their shopping habits, for example, you can create a plan to increase sales. If, on the other hand, you want to map out your future company leadership, you can use data analytics to figure out where talent lies. If you know which cubicles your future stars reside in, you can make it a mission to train them thoroughly.

You can make data analysis work for you in a number of tangible ways. Try breaking down your sales figures for last year into very specific chunks. Plot the daytime temperature in your region and your company's T-shirt sales on the same graph to see if there's a correlation, for example. If you see a link, you can plan ahead to ensure your store is fully stocked with the trendiest shirts in advance.

At its most simple, data analytics is a primal reaction to the circumstances we find ourselves in — both in the business world and in general. If you know the terrain you travel in, you can get to any destination quickly and safely. That counts as a long hike for both new business ventures and existing companies.


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