With the government pledging £10m for a data science hub in this week’s budget, you’d be forgiven for thinking that making the most of data requires an eye watering amount of investment in ‘cutting-edge technologies’. For most businesses this sets a frightening precedent. But it doesn’t have to.
It is reported that “the new hub for data science will help the public and private sector make better use of data, which has the potential to reduce cost and improve public services.” These core aims are the same in any business; getting the most value from data in the most cost effective way to deliver the most benefit.
The good news is that these goals are achievable for any size organisation. And they don’t need a large investment in new technologies; harnessing data is not only the preserve of large organisations and never has been. Here are three ways you can start making the most of your data today:
Share data easily and quickly across your organisation
If you have different systems such as customer databases or billing systems that work in isolation but staff ideally would like them to ‘talk’, they can. Integrating systems ensures that the most accurate and up to date information is being used by every part of your business. The most straightforward way is by writing APIs. These bits of code tell different applications how to transfer and use data. And it’s far more cost effective than building a completely new system in completely new technology.
Manage, analyse and report data better
This is really what every business needs data for – to make better decisions. Through simple techniques like consolidating databases or building user-friendly front-end portals, you can make it easier for staff to input and access data. A ‘re-skin’ or ‘face-lift’ of an existing system is sometimes all it takes to improve the usability of your data. We’d also recommend exploring some bespoke reporting functionality using something like Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). This will give you the exact reports and dashboards your business needs to make reliable and informed decisions.
Automate manual processes and data entry
Your business needs accurate data. However when it resides in spreadsheets or is keyed into systems manually by different people, you could be exposed to inaccuracies. The obvious way to replace unstable spreadsheets is to build a database solution. Or in some cases where spreadsheets have to be used, they can be ‘locked down’ to ensure that only the right data is inputted, in the right format. Having one central repository of data will save time and improve efficiency. Plus, databases are also often the powerhouses of other business applications so this one small change could revolutionise the way your whole organisation uses data.