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Goering Center news: Listen to your data

Leverage data analytics to outperform the competition

By Jonathan Poeder

Business owners are often juggling many balls at once while determining how to allocate resources, including capital expenditures, personnel, marketing, sales and business intelligence. These competing priorities require an operational focus on the day-to-day management of your business. Focusing solely on daily business management can keep you from using one of your most precious assets: your data.

Data analytics is the science of collecting and analyzing sets of data to develop useful insights. The data that your organization generates, whether it is seasonal fluctuations in demand, cost savings associated with preferred vendors or understanding the impact that new tariffs will have on your supply chain, provides an inside look at your business’ strengths and weaknesses. This data is unique to your company — it is an asset that your competitors cannot replicate.

Organizations that understand the power of data can translate data into business insights. Your data will tell you where improvements are needed, which client preferences are trending and where market opportunities exist. When your data is properly collected, cleaned and analyzed, you can transform your data into useful information that will help you outmaneuver your competition.

As you consider elevating the role of data within your organization, it is important to recognize how data is:

  • Used by the people in your organization
  • Tracked to monitor the performance of internal processes (like sales lead time and production time)
  • Maintained within your existing systems’ infrastructure
  • Advocated for by management

Organizations vary regarding how they use data. Following are a few scenarios that might be applicable to your organization.

Are your people aligned around a common goal for data?

The data in your organization can be transformed into valuable information. For example, when dealing with customers, having accurate contact information — including correctly spelled first and last names, current job titles, correct email addresses and phone numbers — is critically important for smooth customer interactions. Do your team members have a method for uniformly collecting this information? Do they have a central repository to store and share this information?

How are your internal processes monitored?

As you prepare for your busy season, who coordinates getting all of the raw materials ordered so that each department who uses the raw materials will have a sufficient supply? Are orders for common materials centralized across your organization? How is the need for these materials shared? How do you consolidate your packaging needs to ensure you’ve ordered enough packaging?

Do you have a consolidated infrastructure for data management?

How do team members keep track of vital information? Is it in a shared database? In an Excel spreadsheet? Is some of it in handwritten notes or residing on notes within someone’s computer? How is this information shared and updated among team members?

How strongly do management and team members embrace the power of data?

Do team members have a clear understanding of how good, clean data can make their jobs easier? Are they adaptable to making some organizational changes to streamline data flows throughout your organization? Are they willing to learn new tools that will help them automate and extract helpful data?  

Although it can feel overwhelming to think about implementing data analytics at your company, there are many platforms and processes that can help you get started. Some initial steps on your data journey include:

  • Establish realistic data analytics targets based on your current analytics capabilities
  • Begin building a solid foundation to verify that collected data is clean, standardized and formatted correctly
  • Test the waters by deciding which area of your business will benefit most from an initial data analytics project
  • Determine whether existing hardware and software are sufficient or whether new tools are needed
  • Identify data analytics “evangelists” — those individuals within your organization who grasp the potential of data analytics and who can share their beliefs with other team members in a compelling way.

Jonathan Poeder is the Director of Data Analytics at Clark Schaefer Hackett, a Goering Center member organization. For more information about the power of data analytics and Clark Schaefer Hackett’s services, reach Jonathan at japoeder@cshco.com or 513-746-2792.

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.