Displaying & Managing Data In Business

BradYoung04 By BradYoung04, 14th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/ypup8em-/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Analysis

An overview of the ins and outs managing data in business, including tips on what data you should and should not keep and how to analyze and visualize the data that is most essential to your business.

The need To Have An Accurate View Of Your Data

If you’re an entrepreneur you essentially run a business, small business owners who were once entrepreneurs can attest to this. It’s essentially an entrepreneurial mind-set that could be considered a ‘business of one’. Managing this business has varying degrees of complexity.
In a young start up, or perhaps as a freelancer, you are your business – quite literally. There is no established brand; there are a few contacts and an idea. The rise of this idea and its evolution leads to ever increasing complexity and intricacy in your business data.
Financial plans, documents, contact forms, data logs and any other type of business related information seem to grow exponentially with a business – and it can be very challenging to maintain an overview of this complexity. Why is this a problem? Well, it can cause delays and make it harder to make business choices if you don’t have a very accurate view of your data – and know what it means.
Chris Taylor in an article on the HBR Blog Network called ‘A Better Way To Tackle All That Data’ wrote that “The single biggest challenge any organization faces in a world awash in data is the time it takes to make a decision. We can amass all of the data in the world, but if it doesn't help to save a life, allocate resources better, fund the organization, or avoid a crisis, what good is it?”. So how do you display and manage your data in a way that helps you run your business better?

Determine What You Actually Need

These days the digital era almost encourages you to keep every single scrap of data, even if it’s barely relevant or is completely unorganized. There are a lot of reasons for this, one of them is that it is simply so easy. Most data is relatively small in size, so it’s easy to think to yourself ‘I might as well keep it, you never know’. The trouble is that you end up with a stockpile of irrelevant and barely useful data.
Thinking this way will just make displaying and analyzing your data more of a challenge, so the ‘You Never Know’ attitude is particularly negative. In fact, you do know – or at least you should determine – what data you actually need.
According to Mary Jane of Demand Media in an article on Chron common types of business data, which you may or may not need depending on the nature of your business, include;
• Business Plans & Goals – These are all of your projections and data of a kind that details your business objectives, planned activities or targets.
• Accounting – There is a great need for precision in business data when it comes to accounting, so it is likely that in the early days especially you will want to hang on to your budget and accounting data.
• Reports – The analysis and reporting on progress in your business is an important way to track whatever metrics you use for success in your business. As a result, you may need them.
There are many different permutations of data, but the best advice is to simply determine what data is most relevant to our business. Obviously, if your business is in accounting or some other financial service then the accounting data will be of much more importance than if you do design work or creative development.
It’s probably worth mentioning that it is possible to be a little bit too ‘brutal’ when it comes to determining what you do and don’t need to keep – so be efficient, but don’t strip back everything. If you don’t have enough data it’s just as difficult to analyses it and make business decisions as it is when you have too much.

Data Analysis, Display & Visualization

The beauty of the modern age is that it’s quite possible to view your data in a wide variety of ways. You can have a look at a spread sheet, but that interprets data only in the way that the original creator intended and makes for quite a narrow view. As a result any tools you can use to help analyze, display and visualize your data in a variety of ways is beneficial.
There are many ways that a visual representation of data can provide a clearer view that makes it easier to use the data you have to make a business decision. For example, time management software can help you see at a glance what your work is being devoted to – which can then help in allocating resources and reduce your ‘time to decision’ so ultimately you’re more time efficient.
In regards to data analysis tools, display systems or visualization software the following should be considered;
• Who Are You Displaying This Data To? – Is this data for technical experts? Is it for shareholders? Is it just for a certain department? Viewers of data displays vary, so you need to choose data software for your audience – more technical data visualization software may not be suitable for certain audiences. This view is supported by Harvard Business Review in an article in Time Magazine.
• Do You Require Partial Or Complete Data Visualization? – Determining whether you need partial or complete visualization is important. By looking at multiple streams of data and comparing them you can reach a conclusion more easily, so visualization software that offers a top down view of all your data can be more effective for a clear overview. Some business intelligence dashboards have this functionality and this completeness can make it easier to spot trends and find answers to questions.
There is some interesting and free data visualization software available, but it depends on your needs – more commercial software will offer bespoke customization and support, so if you’re willing to add that into your business expenses there is some benefit. Free alternatives can be effective, however support is often restricted to forums and customization options are not as common.
Popular free data visualization tools and software include Cave5D, Ferret Data Visualization And Analysis, Gelphi and Tulip. Common commercial alternatives include Eye-Sys, Trendalyzer and StatSoft.

Effective Business Data Management

Business data management is effective only if you incorporate all of the necessary data you need for your business into an appropriate data analysis or visualization tool. After this, the business decisions are much easier to come to and can take much less time.
In order to stay have an intuitive business approach that is informed by your data it can be asserted that data management is essential.

Thank For Reading

Thanks for reading. Check out the rest of my work on WikiNut, especially “CNC Technology & Production – What’s In Store For The Future?”.
Follow me on Twitter for all the latest - @BradYoung04

Tags

Big Data, Business Intelligence, Business Intelligence Dashboards, Data Analysis

Meet the author

author avatar BradYoung04
I am a MBA grad who can transform your business. Follow me for straight talking insights into running successful businesses in a fast paced world. I am always working or surfing in the Californian sun

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Comments

author avatar Ptrikha
9th Jul 2014 (#)

Some very great tips. Thanks for sharing.

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