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How and why data analysis can help increase your profitability and fuel your growth

We are currently doing several big data-based assignments for very various clients and we’d like to share with you common mistakes that are often made by companies when considering analyzing their data.

Mistake #1: where is my data?

First of all what we see is that most companies have a HUGE problem finding their data. Either they don’t have collected data at all (which often is the case in retail environments and we know brands with a serious number of stores which, after having opened several sales points, realize they know nothing about their customers, the origin of their revenues, etc … they have no chance to monitor anything. Yet they don’t realize the opportunities they are missing and don’t take action.

Mistake #2: what should I do with my data?

Another very common problem regards the potential of the data collected. IT specialists are very good at collecting all sort of information. Yet they lack most of the time the knowledge of the business and have no idea what to do with it. You should therefore not expect from your ITers a meaningful proposal as to what to do with your figures and how to analyze them. They won’t know.

What you need is someone with end-to-end knowledge of your business who defines what to measure and how often. In other words to need some human intelligence behind the database.

Mistake #3 : the systems will do it for us

I’ve heard it dozens of times (especially from software houses) : the software will do it for you. You just have to push the button and the data will be analyzed automatically and your KPI’s will appear magically. Believe it or not, this is bullshit. Unless the software is designed specifically to meet your very needs at a certain moment, the best you can expect from a piece of code is that it arranges the data conveniently for you to analyze and reflect upon. The computer doesn’t know your business, your people, and can’t find by itself the right answers to your problems and the way to interpret the data so that it makes sense to you.

Here again what you need is a human being that looks at the data, understands the business, and play with the figures to come up with interesting and challenging conclusions. There is no magic in that; only hard work.

Advice for your business strategy

Whatever the business you are in you do need data to fuel your growth and develop clever marketing strategies. This rule applies for small firms, for larger SME’s and for big companies. The latter have however understood for a long time the value of data and they don’t need to be convinced further.

The aim of our marketing agency is to reveal the potential of data to our other customers: SME’s. They often neglect the potential of the information they have and don’t know what to do with it. In 100% of the assignments we’ve carried out we came up with big surprises (positive or negative) that helped our customers adapt their strategies and grow.

Let me for instance take the example of this 4-people family business in Brussels which had experienced declining benefits for several years and which was forced to take on yet another loan to survive. When we met them they were about to go bankrupt; we had a hard time convincing them to invest a few thousands Euros in their difficult situation. But they did it and we found out why they were losing money. We eliminated unprofitable products and customers, controlled for the payment terms, revealed the lack of up-selling practices. Some nine months after the results were delivered we were happy to hear that they turned positive again and that they were again on the safe side. Data proved crucial in this assignment to save 4 jobs and a 30-year business history. If you’d like to know more about what data can do for your business, your growth and your profitability, send us a note and a specialist will get back in touch.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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