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7 Simple Steps to Tracking Business Data

How Can Small Businesses Use Data?

What sets ‘Ma and Pop’ grocery stores apart from nationwide grocery chain stores?

How Can Small Businesses Use DataIt’s the feeling you get when you walk in and the produce manager yells a greeting to you by name. It’s the familiarity of having your cashier ask about your Golden Retriever and when they might see you at the dog park again. It’s that level of connection that keeps you coming back every other Saturday morning for groceries, even though you drive past two regional grocery chain stores with cheaper prices and more convenient access.

One of the biggest value differentiators for small businesses is being able to truly know their customers. Data is now allowing global businesses the same opportunity to deliver a personalized experience. Small businesses are facing stiff competition in this arena and you don’t have the margins to compete on price.

Location-Based Data

Location-based data specific to consumers is arguably the treasure trove of tomorrow’s business. The ability to track, document, and analyze a person’s driving habits, commuter routes, demographics, consumer locales, and time frames for all of these recorded activities is priceless to businesses. GPS-tracking is being used regularly in every smartphone around the world.  Geo-tracking is the ability to track any device in real time, such as Pokémon. We have expanded geo-tracking into wearables, browsers, kiosks, and other user-friendly technology.

Imagine a world where you’re standing on a street corner and a city bus passes in front of you with a personalized ad for a piece of clothing that fits your style and the coming season. This experience is possible because your phone is sharing your geolocation, social media profile, and other data in real time. This is the reality of today.

Business-Generated Data

It’s virtually impossible for any of us to stay current with all the potential data that’s generated for our businesses, let alone our personal lives. An estimated 90 percent of all data generated is unstructured, including photos on your smartphone, social media interactions, customer transaction trends, and more. Data overload is also a side effect of our current reality. While this is a challenge, it can be solved and turned into great profit.

Become a Client Whisperer…

Data allows you to be a client whisperer. The right data points help you see client needs before your client ever realizes the need is there. If you’re a financial advisor, knowing that a client is due with their first baby in October means you may want to track when the delivery is so you can send a congratulations card, a piggy bank, and information about setting up a college fund. This is turning data into real-life, profit-driving action.

Track The Effect Of Any Changes

The second part of making data-driven changes is tracking the effect of your changes on your business success. What is the impact of eliminating a specific time frame for client appointments? Were the select few clients who were available during that time frame also available at another time frame? Of the potentially affected clients, what is the value and social influence of each of those clients on the rest of your client base?

Make the changes, analyze the impact of those changes, and then make additional changes or confirmation from your analyses. This is a fluid process focused on optimal output based on your goals and objectives.

Tracking how your business operates down to the minutest detail creates market separation. Maintaining as much actionable data as possible on every one of your clients helps personalize your client interactions. Knowing what effect data-driven changes are having on your everyday operations and bottom-line revenue is what keeps businesses like yours ahead of global competitors.

How to start tracking business data

We know the importance of data and how it is shaping tomorrow… now what?

Step 1: Decide what data you would like to gather. I live by the concept that the more data, the better. I like to gather data on the following information at the core: contact information, personal information, social media information, web usage data, communication preferences, demographic data, hobbies and interests, family makeup, business data, consumer buying data, and any other data that would be helpful for your business. For example, a law firm needs to know the names of all of your beneficiaries and contact information.

Step 2: Collect as much data as possible. When I say collect, I don’t mean collecting data in your head. Gather data using a central system, like a CRM, that can integrate with the rest of your technologies.

Step 3: Engage in data cleanup and organization. While this might seem like a basic task, nothing could be further from the truth. If you talk to Data Scientists or Data Geeks, they will tell you the most time spent in the data world is on cleanup and organization. In fact, many say that 80% of their time is spent working with data on cleanup.

Step 4: Ask questions. What questions do you need or want to answer? What decision are you in the midst of needing to make? Do you need to hire more staff? Build out more space? Develop a new product? Change the hours you are open? Get rid of one product so you can focus on another product? Those are just a few of the questions that data can help you answer, providing you the clarity and peace of mind you need. You need to know you have all the information possible to understand the impact of any decision you make.

Step 5: Summarize and visualize the data. We are summarizing our data and reporting on it in this step. In other words, if we want to know how much revenue we did last year in September versus this year in September, we should have a report that clearly shows us that information.

Step 6: Identify actionable insights. Once we have summarized the data, we now use the data to provide actionable insights. We did some consulting for a dental practice that was considering if it was time to expand their space. After looking at the summary data, we found that while they were close to capacity, the type of patients they were serving wasn’t in line with their ideal patient. So, instead of building out more space, they first needed to focus their efforts on finding more of their ideal patients. We were able to provide clarity using data to make actionable insights.

Step 7: Implement advanced analytics and modeling. Being a data geek, this is one of my favorite parts of this whole process. While summary data and actionable insights are extremely helpful in providing us clarity and peace of mind, advanced analytics and modeling is what can propel us into innovation. In the previous story of the dental practice looking for more ideal patients, we developed a model that would help schedule appointments based on an algorithm we developed.

The purpose here is to not only provide actionable insights but also make it as easy as possible for the company to focus its efforts in the most direct way possible. This occurs while gaining valuable insights and improving automatically along the way. Automatically?… How is that possible? We can make baseline assumptions through machine learning and modeling and then let the data tell us how accurate we are and suggest any modifications into our models. This process is fascinating to say the least.

This article is an excerpt from NEO founder Jesse Morris’ new book Data and the World of Today: The Reality of Today that will Impact your Business Tomorrow. Purchase your copy via Amazon.com.

Press Release: Denver Data Analytics Company Releases Data Dashboard For Businesses

Denver, CO – Data Analytics Becomes Attainable For Businesses with NEO Analyzer Dashboard

Denver Data Analytics Company - Business Intelligence DenverFor many years, we’ve been told that data is important, but only the big boys, the giants of business, had the funds to implement and use data in a meaningful way.  However, local Denver, CO Data Analytics Company, Never Ever Ordinary (NEO) is out to change that.  NEO has developed a number of tools and resources for small and mid-size businesses that can change how they approach data, and allow them to use it in a meaningful way for growth.

Never Ever Ordinary is excited to announce the release of their NEO Analyzer Dashboard.  This dashboard allows businesses to stay current with real-time snapshots, down to laser-focused details of what is going on with their business.  Business owners can track growth and measure trends both internally and externally within their business model. The NEO Analyzer is focused around setting up data collection of the most valuable data for your business model, and organizing and analyzing that data in a way that makes most sense for you.  They call themselves translators of data because the dashboard puts complex data in easy-to-understand charts, graphs, and models.

The NEO Analyzer can be customized for more specific needs within a business.  It includes discovery sessions, development, support from the NEO team, and monthly access to track your data over time.  The dashboard is designed to help a business gather, track, analyze, and benchmark data over time to help a business stay competitive both now and in the years to come.

Data analytics allow any size business to stay competitive in their local community and within their overall industry.  Small business owners often argue that their competitive edge is that they know their customers so much more personally than a big box business.  However, data is changing all of that, and allowing the big companies to personalize the customer experience.  That competitive edge is going away for many small businesses, but it doesn’t have to!  Data analytics can help local businesses have the same data intel on their business trends, customer trends, local trends, and industry trends.  Data can give them the information they need to stay competitive and grow.

Never Ever Ordinary has created solutions that can work with almost any size business. In fact, one of their main client groups is the private practice sector where individual doctors own a few locations.  Never Ever Ordinary has designed data analytics dashboards and reports that give the local business owner data that actually means something to them in their market, and helps them make distinct decisions.  Their suite of services can be effective for anything from a brand new startup to an established, thriving business on the move.

Never Ever Ordinary is based in Denver, Colorado, but serves clients throughout the United States and even internationally.  To learn more about these innovative reports, contact Jesse Morris at the contact information provided below.

Never Ever Ordinary

Jesse Morris

info@nevereverordinary.com

www.nevereverordinary.com

Twitter:  @neverordinaryBI

Managing Communication: The Art of Organizing Outlook

business intelligence company in Denver ColoradoPart 1: Folders

Communication – the ups & downs
Communication is a guiding principle in my interactions with our clients and their financial goals; however, communication becomes ineffective if I do not approach my workflow with a detail-oriented strategy. With the ever-present reality of technology and quick responses, clients and business contacts frequently pose questions, ideas, or thoughts through email. While this enables immediate dialogue, it also creates an email inbox full of messages.

Microsoft Outlook is an incredible tool for email if used properly; the personal information management system is known world-wide for its use in companies, non-profits, and for personal use to communicate ideas, achieve tasks, and maintain the interconnected reality of the present.

Still, nothing hinders efficiency than an unanswered inbox full of emails. One of the ways Outlook can help you –as it’s helped me – is to organize the internal folders.

What’s worked for me
In restructuring in my email folders within Outlook, I first analyzed the folders I had and my process for following up with emails I received daily. For me, the important emphasis was segmenting out and prioritizing what was important versus what could wait.

I borrowed a lot of organizational ideas from a book by a well-known productivity consultant, David Allen, titled Getting Things Done. My biggest take away from it was if I could achieve a task in two minutes or less, then I needed to go ahead and take care of it. If I was unable to in that very moment and yet still needed to take action, I could pull the email into its own folder, delete it, or archive it. The end goal is to only touch an email once to take action, and maybe a second time if you have to research something or need to think about your response. The subfolders I came up with were:

Action Items – Notes to Edit – Projects – Phone Calls -Waiting for/on- Travel – Webex
Within all folders, I proceeded to make subfolders that said “completed”. After, I generated archived folders that are a lot more detailed. It is necessary to have only a few folders within your inbox to keep it simplified. For example, I know “action items” is the one folder that I have to go to each and every day to make sure it is taken care. Your inbox should constantly be emptied throughout the day and most days I do not leave until it is emptied. If I am successful at this it is one thing that makes me feel like I accomplished or achieved something that day.

Within your inbox I recommend 4 to 7 folders. I have a couple of folders that serve a more temporary need (travel or webex, for example) but the folders I tend to be most concerned about are the action items, notes to edit, and phone calls.

What we are trying to achieve here is a way to organize emails to follow up with clients, with staff, and with other key individuals. How you manage your emails and tasks is a customized and personalized process. You might have certain nuances in your industry or in the way you keep up with client communication, but in the end, it is important that email is used as a tool for enhancing communication not barring it. Some of my colleagues prefer to organize their email folders by name of fellow staff or management – this is certainly another way that folders can be utilized to streamline the messages you receive daily.

Challenges
As you can imagine with any new organizational system there are challenges. To no surprise, time is one of the biggest issues on my end. Even with a goal to get through my emails daily, sometimes it just does not happen. Another issue is not forgetting about certain folders and losing some emails “in space”.

Yet, as with anything, we overcome challenges with patience and perseverance. I have stuck to my new internal email organizational system in Outlook and I feel more prepared, responsive, and ready to help the clients I serve. That is what organization can help you do, and I certainly hope these small approaches help you to achieve bigger goals.

Part II Coming Soon: Utilizing Outlook’s Task List

Jesse R. Morris, AIF®, CFS®, PPC

 

Jesse Morris is the founder of Never Ever Ordinary, a data and business intelligence company in Denver Colorado.