Real-time insight for tech, SaaS and e-commerce - it’s about time
I recently gave the keynote talk at the first-ever Digital Accountancy Show on ‘The rise of data’, and spoke about how, despite data being all around us all the time, we’re vastly under using it. And, when we are using it, we’re waiting too long, seriously impacting our decision making.
I’m going to share my thoughts – but first, I’m sharing this quote because it’s a great example of how a company’s growth and profits exploded through effective use of timely data. Look it up. You’ll be inspired.
“Good data can help leaders make smarter decisions, faster: data was certainly a vital ingredient in the growth of Just Eat” David Buttress, Former CEO, Just Eat (The Times)
The quest for real time insight
Here’s an amazing fact.
More data has been produced in the last two years than in the entire history of mankind.
How much of it is useful, though?
In the United States alone, IBM has estimated that poor data quality cost businesses $3.1 trillion every year. To put this figure in context, that’s twice the GDP of Canada.
But it’s not just about the cost when it comes to poor quality data. Hours and hours are lost pulling data from various sources, information is duplicated, and errors occur. This impacts confidence, speed, and quality of decision-making.
The need for speed
Real-time data is essential to making timely decisions. Customer trends and product insights need to be measured over days or even hours, rather than weeks or, worse still, months.
But, from experience, it’s common for management teams to wait weeks to receive information to review, which is just too late.
Real-time data about your business means you can act quickly, avoid potentially costly mistakes and, crucially, capitalise on potentially profitable opportunities and trends.
Real time data gives you the edge over your competition.
The benefits of real-time data analytics
Real time data analytics can save you and your teams a world of time-consuming pain.
Not only do members of your team not have to manually prepare information, but getting it much earlier means you have days, if not weeks, to truly realise the benefit of it. This can save money and increase margin and revenue.
Real-time data analytics helps to:
- identify and manage operational issues
- monitor and act on market changes immediately
- understand customer actions – churn, expansion, marketing effectiveness, and ultimately;
- make decisions and act much faster.
The challenge for many businesses is that their data is everywhere. It sits across multiple applications, in accounting software, CRM systems, marketing tools, customer services applications…the list goes on. It’s quite often managed by different people as well. And that’s just structured data.
Too much data, all cobbled together
Most applications serve up some sort of information natively, but often it’s not relevant to the business objectives. What it gives is a very siloed view rather than the rich, connected overview that the business and its leaders need.
Typically, someone then needs to run reports from each system and, more often than not, manually reconcile the different data in a spreadsheet or connect the information together to identify patterns or relative insights.
This is made even more difficult because data across different applications doesn’t typically align by date or taxonomy.
As well as the huge potential for human errors, the whole process is frustratingly time-consuming.
Get clean. Get organised
Often businesses don’t know where to start when it comes to harnessing their data.
They’re dealing with dirty data, data that is incomplete, data that is inaccurate and data that is duplicated across systems.
There’s a solution. While this can be treated through data cleansing activities, it’s much easier and more effective to make sure processes and due governance are in place to control how data is captured and organised in the first place.
Data should have clear owners, who are responsible for making sure the data is clearly defined, clean and kept up to date.
Data owners should also oversee:
- creating, providing access, and updating data
- storing data across multiple applications
- disaster recovery procedures
- ensuring data privacy and security, and
- archiving, destroying, and giving relevant access data in accordance with GDPR, and other regulatory or compliance requirements.
Why can’t everything be like a smartwatch?
One of the analogies I use is the smartwatch.
Most smartwatch users look at their device multiple times a day and not just for the time. It gives live feedback on metrics like the number of steps taken, calories burnt, quality of sleep and heart rate.
This mini dashboard that sits silently on our wrist helps us to understand our own performance, minute by minute, hour by hour, and empowers us to make changes there and then.
It tells us to breathe, stand up, walk, and shows where we are against our target calories or steps.
Seeing this data in real-time means we can, and do, act. We will go for a walk to hit our target steps for the day. We will get up if we’ve been sitting too long. We will know if our heart rate is okay. And we will know whether to pass on that cake if our calorie burn is low.
All this instant data, presented in a simple and easy to understand way, helps us meet our targets because we have the insight in real-time, as things are unfolding.
Imagine if we had to wait until the end of the month – we’d never catch up on our steps. But that’s the reality of what most businesses are doing. And the delay can cost them dearly.
An at-a-glance, visual representation of real-time data helps present the information you need in a way that can both be easily understood and support you to make much more timely decisions.
Game changing insight
The key to effective decision making is having the right business data, at the right time - which is all the time.
At flinder we help fast-growing, and data rich businesses get better at managing their data, turning it into insight, creating real-time dashboards that lead to action.
Tailored to specific business goals, our dashboards transform the way you view your company and help you make better informed and more timely decisions.
Our approach brings together your data into one place, providing a visualisation of your KPIs, metrics or OKRs.
Any changes in the underlying data will be reflected real-time in the dashboard, enabling you to see where changes are happening.