The Business Bad Word
It’s a taboo in many circles. Just the whisper of it is enough to bring men to tears and women to shriek in terror: analytics.
Now calm down...I know you’re not liking where we’re going, but hold on. Before you completely jump ship, analytics are very vital to the day-to-day happenings of businesses as big as Wal-Mart or a mom and pop antique shop.
Today most analytic findings are used as supporting evidence of people’s recommendations for marketing campaigns. Being able to have evidence that supports your recommendations goes miles ahead of just having suggestions with no evidence as to why they will work. In today’s world, if you do not have some support for your claim, you might be laughed out of your boss’s office. Don’t be laughed out of the building, be prepared. Analytics can be very intimidating when you are just starting out because you don’t know what you are looking for or what statistical test would be the proper one to use.
Small businesses can find a lot of value in utilizing analytics for their benefit. One of the most common types of statistical tests is calculating customer satisfaction. This is one of the more important tests, because it is important to know if your customers hate your business or love it. Having basic analytical skills allows you to be more specific when you are talking with your analyst about what is being said in the reports. This knowledge also eliminates any confusion when the experts are using words that go over your head. As businesses, we should always be focused on improving our products and finding new consumer groups to target; having this knowledge will help us do both of those things.
Oftentimes the importance of analytics takes a backseat to ideas that worked in the past like running ads, overhauling your website, or other big projects that cost a decent amount of money. These are all good things to do for our businesses, but these large projects are sometimes not necessary for what is best for the company. If the search bar on Facebook is not working, they are not going to disassemble the entire site and start from scratch. This is a problem that many of us feel as business people. We want to put our best foot forward and when one thing goes wrong, we want to fix the problem with an all-encompassing solution. Sometimes these solutions can be extreme, and do not fix the main problems. This is why you should use analytics to accurately pinpoint problems and opportunities that you would not be able to find otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes analytics is not the only answer, but it is something that should always be given the respect that it deserves. If the numbers were always right, then sports would be boring to watch because the underdog would never win. In 2016, the analytics of the NBA Finals pointed to the Golden State
Warriors beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 in a best of seven series. Then something analytically impossible happened....the Cavaliers won in seven games, becoming the only team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. When analytics is the main focus of the business, we forget what makes the work we do important. It’s the people that we are serving. It is important to remember that analytics helps us know what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future. Looking at the numbers often puts things into perspective and allows us to step back and think about the bigger picture.
Regardless of the thoughts that all of us had in high school and college math classes, algebra and statistics will more than likely show up in our work more than we would like. Analytics plays a huge part in business, and many of the major and minor decisions of businesses have had multiple tests run on them to see if they are implementable. Some of the most important jobs in a business are people who can look at raw data such as Excel files and survey results, and then interpret these sources of data and turn it into reportable information. Hiring data analysts are becoming more and more popular as businesses are trying to save money and cut contracts by having most of their analysis done in-house. These people are at the forefront of knowing what will happen before most of the other people in the business. Because of in-house analysis, a company can save time and money simply by looking at data.