How Data Analytics helps Business Decision-Making
By Nasiha Choudhury, Lawrence Grant, Chartered Accountants
Foreign investment in Indian startups, Consumer trends are changing so fast that businesses are struggling to keep pace. In order to make informed business decisions, many companies are now looking at their internal data. Could this be the result of a “data-driven” world? The use of Data Analytics can help businesses improve decision-making in the following areas:
- Predict customer trends and behaviours.
- Streamline and optimise operations.
- Improve Business Productivity.
- Discover new opportunities.
This cost-effective approach to meet the end customer’s needs (i.e. a more personalised service, user-friendlier website, improved products) has a lot to do with how companies are using the information stored in their databases. This may seem like a simplistic approach to decision-making but often requires advanced analytical tools to get the best out of your data.
Which software to use?
Many analytical programming tools allow us to analyse our data, for instance, Google Analytics is popularly used for features such as Content Analysis. This tells you what pages of your website are performing the best, and often used in industries such as Retail, Recruitment and IT. The following tools offer more unique benefits:
- Structured Query Language (SQL) – a “natural language” for Data Analysis with a sole purpose of managing databases. This is great for retrieving huge datasets and can prove valuable if you are in industries like FinTech or working with Mobile Applications. For example, applications like Instagram and Snapchat use SQL to store user profile information. This updates the application’s database with the user’s activity e.g. changing profile images, sending messages to other users, sharing posts etc. Used by: IBM, Oracle, Microsoft.
- Tableau – popular for Data Visualisation, presenting information in charts and graphs. A company may want more from their data; by using colour and animation, users can make their figures easier to read and create more engaging presentations. Used by: Amazon, LinkedIn, Deloitte.
- Python – calling all Tech Savvy folks. This free tool is great for Web Development so you can build website templates and ideas quickly. Readability is a popular feature as less coding is required. Used by: Instagram, Dropbox.
Many businesses have recognised the importance of Business Intelligence (BI), helping them make decisions based on past data. BI can help you understand your customers better, making relevant changes and developments to meet marketplace demand. For example, Amazon uses BI to personalise product recommendations using data based on what customers have previously searched/purchased. They also use BI to make logistical decisions, such as augmenting shipping routes to allocate inventory amongst warehouses. However, businesses now desire predictive capabilities and visualisation options, achieved through analytics.
‘Big Data Analytics’ requires a more automated process, one that is less timely and prone to human error. For this, visualisation tools are a great way to quickly manipulate growing data, preventing misinformation. Data Visualisation can be beneficial especially for marketing purposes, to display analysed data in more sophisticated formats, such as Info graphs, Pie Charts, and Heat Maps.
Where is the market?
Last year, the rise of Artificial Intelligence was firmly in the spotlight, particularly for the likes of Automation. BI systems offer automated techniques to help free up time within a workforce, to focus on more crucial tasks. This can help make vital changes before KPI’s are affected.
Consider the following examples:
- Marketing Automation eliminates the need for staff to manually set up campaigns and segment users, allowing more time to be spent focusing on strategic marketing and brand positioning.
- Business Analysis Automation means Analysts are free from spending long tedious hours integrating and exploring their data, and instead making the right decisions for their business based on what it is telling them.
In the Human Resources (HR) sector, data is used to reshape the workforce in modern workplaces. PWC recently addressed how many companies are using Data Analytics to spot gender or racial pay gaps, developing a strategy to overcome bias. So not only can companies use their data for external use, it can even be used to address internal matters as well.
Database systems such as IRIS Practice Management (specialising in Accountancy software) offer tools like Data Mining and Memorised Reports, which allows stored client information to be mined to profile clients to target in relevant campaigns within the CRM system or to pull a list of clients who have/have not submitted their paperwork. In the case of the latter, this can help a firm to meet tight deadlines by focusing on a set of clients who are yet to meet required deadlines. A database system is in no doubt one of the greatest tools that both small-medium sized and large companies can utilise, offering various benefits including data sharing, mobile access to data, and integration. However, security in particular is key for most businesses.
Securing data means administrators can limit access to certain staff, preventing any chaos caused by all staff having the authority to edit information. CRM systems have become a huge necessity in companies today, and is highly dependent on the information stored in a database. This can help manage B2B and/ or B2C relationships, and optimise your marketing communications.
Overall, if you are looking to implement analytical tools to go alongside your database, you are heading in the right direction. This can be beneficial across many departments within your business, from HR to Finance, and as an endresult help you make better business decisions. Many businesses are using analytical tools in advanced ways, helping to give them a distinct advantage over their competitors.
Nasiha ChoudhuryLawrence Grant, Chartered Accountants, London, UK
T: +44 208 861 75 75
Published: GGI Insider, No. 100, March 2019 l Photo: Rawpixel.com - stock.adobe.com