As a Technical Consultant for Yellowfin, I speak to clients constantly. One trend I have noticed is that many of my clients do not understand the power of their data and the magnitude of insight they could unleash upon their business from something as simple as an invoicing database.
Clients say to me, “Cadell, I want to report on my sales, am I meeting my KPIs?”
That is all well and good – but they could be doing so much more! For example, I have a client who has the details of 5 million customers in their database plus all the transactions that these 5 million people made with them. To me this is exciting! However, they simply couldn’t see the same picture as me. This client thought of their sales databases on an individual basis – one client, one sale – and they failed to realize that if they aggregated their data across those 5 million individuals they would gain powerful, valuable insight.
Think differently about business data
Your data is not just a stack of paper invoices with individual client details on each one. Start thinking of it as a pool of census data. Once you start aggregating these invoices across demographics, post codes, job titles, or any other factor you might be collecting, you can draw conclusions to help guide your business into a more profitable direction.
Perhaps you have a particular postcode that on average spends a higher amount per invoice with you – unleash your sales team here. A real world example I discovered was that one particular job title my clients sold to took twice as long to close a deal with than other titles. In this case the decision was made to skip this demographic in favor of another occupation that was a faster, easier sale.
Use your data creatively
Start looking for correlations everywhere and bring in as many different sources as possible. There could be weather patterns or calendar events that effect your bottom dollar, even the pull of the moon could be losing you money! You’re likely to find that a particular product or service sells better on a specific month of the year – this insight should push you to market that product heavily leading up to that time. Draw wild conclusions and be excited with your exploration of data.
Test your wild conclusions
Correlation obviously doesn’t mean causation, but if you can test it – then do! Take up a “Fail Fast” methodology.
If you see from your data that clients from Queensland buy more products from your Victorian sales center than their own, funnel a higher portion of your QLD calls to VIC for a week and monitor your bottom dollar. If it doesn’t work you can move on and chalk that one up as a coincidence, otherwise if it turns out that it works then you are no longer leaving money on the table.
Practice seeing your data in new ways
It takes time for people to break away from the one-to-one connection they have with an individual item of data; it takes time to train your brain to think about all those invoices or clients as a source of “aggregate insight”. Once you’re able to make that leap to thinking of the possibilities from lumping data together you will start noticing it everywhere. You will find yourself looking for patterns and insights even in your day-to-day life. It will get easier, I assure you.
Once you start collecting a significant amount of data, any data, you can unlock its potential simply by exploring it!
Now perhaps I make it seem easier than it is, but once you dive in you will learn quickly that it can be as simple as I make it out to be, especially using a data visualization tool. Don’t be scared, go on a data adventure.