Common Mistakes Businesses Make with Data


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There’s more data available to business owners and managers in the current digital environment than ever before, and it’s often free or at least low cost to track and manage. 

However, this doesn’t mean all entrepreneurs and their teams know how to best utilize all the information flowing in and out of an organization or avoid making common data-related mistakes. Here are some common issues you should be aware of and try to avoid.

Tracking the Wrong Data

Many companies don’t give themselves the best chance of utilizing information optimally because they don’t plan out exactly what type of data to track and analyze. People often waste resources examining details that don’t matter much, and they fail to look at those that do. 

You might think that going big is the best source of action, but spending time, money, and energy on the wrong information gathering can cause more problems than it solves. Stop and think about what you need to know and why. Some examples of metrics firms can track that won’t necessarily help with success include simple social media or newsletter follower or subscriber numbers, without also looking into engagement such as click-through, comment, and open rates. 

Some metrics appear handy on paper and might give you a bit of a confidence boost, but they don’t tell you if that area is adding value to your business or not. They can work as benchmarks and indications of marketing achievements in some ways, though, so it all depends on your specific goals and what you’re trying to understand and grow. If you’re unsure about the worth of data items, try a smaller test first to see if the information gathered is beneficial. 

Keep in mind, too, that you might be missing spots where you could save time or costs by utilizing data or obtaining more helpful insights. For instance, you can use comprehensive data capture services to help with your accounts payable processes, saving manual entry time. Or, you could go through data to see which newsletter subscriber emails always bounce back, alerting you to cases where you’re paying to send communications that will never get opened. 

Some other data people often don’t look at enough is customer service response and satisfaction statistics. That is, how quickly do you and your team respond to shopper queries, and what percentage of your responses answer the question or solve the problem for the inquirer the first time? 

Keep considering the types of data you track and why to ensure you’re not missing anything vital or wasting resources on things that are no longer important. Overwhelming amounts of data might lead you to have significant analysis paralysis. Always define metrics and set benchmarks and key performance indicators where possible to make the details you collate more actionable. There’s no point handling data if you don’t do something with it, after all. 

Lack of Set Processes 

It’s vital, too, to have set processes for how information is collected and used. This way, you can feel comfortable knowing there’s consistency in the methods and, therefore, more consistency in the data tracked. There’s no point spending ages examining details if they’re only going to lead you astray due to inaccurate collection. 

No Oversight

It helps to select one person or team to be in charge of as many of your data processes and reports as possible. Companies often deal with inaccuracies and variations in information quality because there’s no central oversight, leading to duplication, incorrect transfer of details, wrong inputs, lag time between department data sharing, and other errors and issues. 

Delegate the role of data hygiene within your organization and train users on the best methods to simplify procedures and avoid complications and bottlenecks. 

Not Considering Security and Privacy

When you collate business and customer information, keep all these details safe from prying eyes. A mistake many businesses make is not securing data properly, both physically on-site and online. Organizations often fail to communicate privacy details correctly to consumers and end up with problems if people’s information gets stolen, or used or shared inappropriately. 

Other common data mistakes to keep in mind include failing to think long-term and broadly, missing the whole story by having blind spots, and not making data digestible and visual enough to get used appropriately. The more you avoid all these issues, the better you can utilize information in your business, and the better your results should be.