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January 13, 2012

Love Your Data

Your business data is your business. Think about it: If you lost the list of customers that buy your products or services, the suppliers you work with, or the orders you’ve fulfilled in the past, how would that affect your business?
 
Jes BorlundDo You Know Where Your Data Is?
 
Data comes in many forms. It can be the list of customers and their orders in a database. It can be the customer logo files your art department worked on. It might be the spreadsheet of items ordered from vendors that accounting keeps track of. Start by identifying what data you have in your company.
 
Where is your data stored? There are many options for storing data. It could be on a server that everyone has access to. It could be on an individual person’s computer, or a USB drive. Perhaps you’re keeping it on the internet, using a service like Google Docs or Office 365. Know where your data is stored.
 
Who’s keeping track of it? You should know what data you have, where it is, and make sure that information is available to key people. An intranet page or a SharePoint library are some examples of ways to keep track of this.
 
Is Your Data Safe?
 
If you had a warehouse of products, you’d make sure you protected it from disaster. You’d have locks on the doors, you’d know who was entering and leaving, you’d have fire extinguishers in the building, and you might even have a secondary location with a backup supply of products. How can you apply the same level of protection to your data?
 
Have security measures in place so that only people that need specific data have access to it. There is a greater danger of data theft from internal sources than external, such as hackers. Work with your IT staff to implement security on any digital content you have. If you have online accounts, make sure your passwords are strong, and that you aren’t giving them out to everyone. Simple measures like this can go far.
 
Another important strategy for your data is to have backups. This is especially important for electronic files and data. Electronic data isn’t quite the same as a factory full of nuts and bolts – you can’t call a supplier and order another round of customers. Make sure you have a solid backup plan in place.
 
Are You Using Your Data?
 
Data can do much for you than give you a list of customers to call, or supplies to re-order. When entered and analyzed properly, your data can help you spot trends, forecast future growth, and more.
 
There are simple, free analysis tools available. One example is your Facebook page. It has Insights built in. This tells you how many people like your page, how many views you’re getting each day, and how people are responding to content you’re posting. Another example is Google Analytics. This is a free website where you can analyze the traffic that is going to your website.
 
Are you analyzing the data you’ve collected to spot trends? Do you know who your top customers or contacts or? Where should you be investing research time and money? Reporting and analytics tools and software are available for you to view and evaluate all that data you’ve collected. Consider your business intelligence strategy as another tool in your business toolbox.
 
Ensuring that you know what data you have, where it is, and analyzing it will help your business grow and thrive.