Business Intelligence: Which Types of Data to Collect

Data is undoubtedly the most valuable resource in the digital world. New technologies and digital storage opened the way for businesses to gather more data than ever.

Valuable information can be found at every digital corner, and those who are smart enough know exactly how to use it to track and boost the performance of their business.

However, as huge quantities of data become so readily available, figuring out what’s really helpful can be challenging.

If you want to adopt a data-driven approach and take full advantage of business intelligence, but you feel overwhelmed by the amount of data available, keep reading to find out which types of data you should collect.

Sales data

The end goal of every business boils down to generating profit — and your sales department plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. That’s why you need to make sure that your sales team is as efficient as possible.

That’s where data comes into play. By gathering sales data and analyzing what worked and what didn’t work in the past, you can make necessary changes to achieve success in the future.

Collecting as much sales data as you can, including revenue, profitability, distribution channels, and customer personas, can help you learn from past experience, identify weaknesses, and adjust your sales strategy accordingly.

The US retail giant, Walmart, is a perfect example of how to use sales data to boost revenue. Walmart Labs collects and processes a whopping 2.5 petabytes of customer data every hour. Their analysis covers 100’s of millions of customers and millions of products.

With the help of big data, they constantly work on improving customer experience and this smart usage of data and has brought them continuous growth in sales during the past several years.

While most businesses don’t have the resources Walmart has, the important takeaway is that collecting and analyzing sales data really does show results, so it’s worth trying to incorporate it into your sales strategy to the best of your ability.

Marketing data

Collecting sales data isn’t only helpful to your sales department — but can also be extremely valuable to your marketing team. The more information you collect on your customers, the more precise and targeted both sales and marketing campaigns will be.

Although marketing departments can benefit tremendously from sales data, they also produce a sea of valuable information themselves. In fact, your marketing department is probably sitting on a gold mine of useful information — from website traffic and click-through rates to social media traffic and audience engagement, marketing data can help you anticipate future trends and tweak your strategy to best suit customers’ behaviour.

Collecting as much customer data, both in the marketing and the sales faze, can help you gauge who your target customers should be, what they want, and how best to convert them.

Internal communication data

Sales and marketing data sure offer great insight into customer experience and can help you improve customer engagement. But what about employee engagement?

To gain a deeper understanding of employee engagement, you need to take a look at your internal communication.

However, improved employee engagement and internal communication are not the only reasons to keep communication data such as instant messaging correspondence, emails, text messages, and phone calls.

You also need to keep these records in order to stay compliant. Data archiving is essential for creating a centralized, searchable database, as well as ensuring compliance.

In fact, every business is legally required to keep these communication records for a prescribed period of time. These retention periods vary by industry, so you need to create an email retention policy based on regulations that are relevant to your particular line of business.

To help you both properly retain your emails and easily access your records whenever you need them, you can use email archiving solutions. They allow you to analyze your archived data and gain valuable insights you can use across multiple departments.

Accounting data

When talking about business data, most people probably have endless spreadsheets of numbers filled with numbers and financial information. While not everything is about numbers, accounting data is extremely important for business.

Sometimes this data is shared between departments —  for example, payroll data that both HR and accounting departments work on.

Cash flow data is another important thing every business should gather and analyze. Your sales team might collect revenue information, but simply having revenue isn’t enough for a business to operate successfully.

In order to turn a profit and prevent the loss, you also need to have a realistic estimate of your expenses.

It is inevitable that a part of your revenue is spent on salaries, suppliers, on the production of shipping, etc. Carefully analyzing your accounting data can help you ensure that you’re not overspending on any of these aspects and that, once you pay for all of it, you’re still left with a profit.

HR data

Besides payroll data, the HR department can provide loads of other useful information regarding how productive each employee or department is, how satisfied and engaged employees are, how much it costs to recruit and train new talent, etc.

This is all valuable data that can show what works well in and which areas need improvement. Not only can you use these insights to improve the HR process itself, but they can also help you detect and rethink unproductive practices in other departments as well.

If your employees feel unhappy and unappreciated, they will be unmotivated to work, and, ultimately, productivity will decrease. With the help of data, you can easily detect problematic areas and take action to improve them.

Additionally, data can show you whether your recruitment and training process is optimized and prevent you from wasting valuable time and resources. Looking at data will help you see the issue as soon as it occurs and enable you to fix it quickly before it becomes a huge problem.

Over to you

Although it’s useful to divide data into different categories or even different departments, keep in mind that it doesn’t exist in a bubble. For best results, it’s crucial that all departments constantly communicate and collaborate.

If information isn’t flowing transparently across the departments, no one will have the whole picture, and you won’t be able to make improvements.

Marketing and sales teams can’t work without each other, sales data is essential for the accounting department, and internal communication data shows a lot about employee engagement to the HR department.

The more data is collected and shared between teams and departments; the more informed and effective their decision-making will be.

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