How to make data more friendly for your teams

Data is an important tool in the arsenal of any modern business, but the massive amount of available information can be intimidating to employees. Estimates predict a whopping 5 200 GB of data per person in the year 2020.

By working to make your data and analytics more accessible, you can ensure that knowledge doesn’t go to waste. With a little effort, you can change the way your employees work and improve both productivity and profits.

Keep your head above water

More knowledge is almost always a good thing, but you must handle that information carefully. Bulk data presented in raw form is pretty much useless, due to an effect called information overload. When you are given more data than your brain can effectively process, you tend to make worse decisions that if you have been given significantly less information. Information overload can also create feelings of anxiety and indecision. This is often the reason why employees dread working with large amounts of data.

In order to defeat information overload, you need to transform raw data into something much easier to understand. One way to do this is using software with data management features, such as join and merge options, which can combine multiple data sets into a big picture view. Graphs and charts can also help you present the information in a more intuitive way.

Going one step further, you can put all your information into a searchable database that can create graphs of any data set on command. This allows your employees to get right to the information they need, rather than having to sort through everything themselves. When they’re actively using data to assist in normal tasks, they may even come up with new ideas to increase the productivity and efficiency of your business.

Be fast and flexible

Information usually loses relevance as time passes. Information about sales from January 2011 is obviously not going to be much help, but even data just one month old can be less useful than it was when first collected. This means that the sooner you can get that data into the hands of your employees, the better. Collecting data more often also reduces the amount of information in each batch, helping prevent information overload.

Putting data to use right away enables you to respond quickly to changing market conditions. It can even help with something as simple as an employee on sick leave. If your best salesman isn’t available to handle an important client, you might be able to look at the data for the last week and find that a new employee is on a hot streak. Splitting data up into manageable chunks also helps your employees know when and where to use it. Each project gets the attention it deserves as well as the data it needs, and less time is wasted in indecision.

Getting employees in the habit of taking advantage of new data can even prevent important projects from failing catastrophically. If a recently launched product or feature isn’t working as intended, you need to know as soon as possible. When your team is tracking complaints daily, you can be warned of a defect before you waste thousands of dollars on a broken product. When you have software constantly analyzing posts about your software on social media, you’ll know when a new feature is poorly received. You can then roll back the software to a previous build while you fix the problem.

You can even give your team access to dedicated analytical software to glean important information from data that might seem unimportant. For example, GPS tracking data on delivery vehicles might show that drivers always avoid a particular section of road when there’s snow on the ground. Creating an alternate route structure with this in mind could improve the speed and efficiency of deliveries.

Regardless of how you go about collecting and analyzing data, you need to be careful to avoid information overload and ensure your teams are making the most of the information they have access to. By ensuring that the information you collect is accessible and up to date, you can drastically improve the efficiency of your business and even safeguard against potential pitfalls.

Image: Olu Eletu



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