Data is the very backbone of businesses everywhere. Today, the abundance of data collected by organizations can fuel operations and efforts of many different types — from sales and marketing to financial matters to warehouse procedures. Data is the foundation of key decisions and strategies and, with it, businesses are more able to justify and support their actions as units.
But first things first: how, exactly, do businesses actually access and leverage this data? Digital tools and software play a pivotal role in the process. Here’s how.
What Is Big Data?
Simply put, big data refers to huge data sets, both structured and unstructured. Big data grows substantially every day and comes in numerous different formats, most often digital ones. Companies use this data, assessing patterns, trends, and other key features, to derive insights and takeaways. Then, they use the information they have gleaned to make critical decisions about their businesses.
How Can Software Be Part of Your Data Strategy?
Software is a pivotal component of businesses’ data strategies. Solid technology will allow you to collect, clean, present, and glean insights from data. This, in turn, will better inform your efforts and ideas going forward. It will also allow non-technical personnel to better understand what the data sets mean in terms of the big picture of your business and larger strategies.
What Makes a Strong Data-Collection Tool?
1. It Has Clear Objectives
Before implementing data systems at your company, make sure you’ve established objectives for the software. Which departments will use it? What’s the purpose of the data collection? What will it be used for? What kind of insights do you want to get from it? These are questions you should know the answers to when you start to consider the type of software to build or bring into your business.
2. It Can Integrate with Other Software
Any tool you introduce, especially ones that will affect multiple departments or the entire company, must be compatible with your existing software. You will be using your data management systems in conjunction with your other software. You can also collect data related to the tools within your company, such as their performance, in which case you will need to ensure that they function together successfully.
3. It’s Scalable
Businesses often grow, and so do the systems they put in place. Your data software should be scalable, such that it will be able to accommodate new users and expanding data sets. Your software must have the features and flexibility necessary to adjust as your company expands — as you grow, so, too, will your data and data sources.
4. It’s User-Friendly
One of the primary purposes of data management software is to make this critical information accessible to technical and non-technical audiences alike. The user experience is fundamental to a solid data platform. The software must have an appealing, easy-to-use interface and features that are easy to understand for anyone who seeks to leverage the platform.
For example, it should present data visualizations — graphs, charts, and other forms of visual representations — to make the information clear and understandable to audiences of different types. It should also be interactive.
5. It Has Strong Security
The online atmosphere is, unfortunately, crawling with hackers and other cybercriminals. Some of these cybercriminals are quite deft at breaking into systems and gaining access to sensitive data. When unauthorized people are able to infiltrate data systems, it could result in a catastrophe of epic proportions. That’s why security is a critical concern.
Data platforms must be built with cybersecurity in mind as a top priority, preventing those who could use your information against you from infiltrating your systems.
6. It Enables Data Cleaning
Data in its rawest forms is often unusable for audiences that need it. Businesses often have large, unstructured data sets that are filled with issues like redundancies. But a quality data management platform will offer cleaning as a feature, transforming data that is riddled with issues into more usable information.
In the past, people might have had to clean data manually. But thanks to the magic of software, they no longer have to perform this time-consuming feat.
7. It Has Backup Features
With so much data at your disposal, it’s easy to lose track of your information — and even lose it altogether. This, of course, is a worst-case scenario. To ensure that your data is readily available, you must be able to back it up.
Data software will accomplish this, performing regular backups such that the information is always available, even if the worst happens and you lose crucial data.
8. It Offers Real-Time Insights
Businesses don’t just need to have this information — they need to understand the data that they’re collecting as they do so. A great data software platform will deliver analytics and critical information in real time, showing you and your employees where they are, how they’re doing, and what’s happening at any given moment. This is especially important for businesses that must make decisions very quickly — which, in this day and age, is most of them.
Data is an important part of your business. Equally important are the tools you use to collect, manage, and leverage that crucial information. Your data alone won’t help you if it isn’t stored properly and accessible to you in a digestible format.
Software plays a fundamental role in collecting and managing this key information. In fact, these platforms are critical to your data strategy.