How to Make Sure You are Getting the Most Out of Your Gathered Data

With most businesses, gathering data isn’t a problem. It’s usually the opposite. Companies will often have too much information and not a good enough plan to deal with it. To ensure you are getting the most out of your data you will need a clear answer for what you are looking to get from it, what is the right data to use, and how the data will be used in your decision making process.

Knowing these things will ensure that you can draw reliable and accurate conclusions from the data you have. Today, we’re going into a few steps that will help you get the most out of your data. In the end, there will be a quick summary of how to gather more data should you realize your data is off the mark or more is needed.
Define Your Questions
When you begin with a large amount of data, the most important thing to do is to define the questions that you have. You should work to make these questions SMART, or Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. While this is normally a process for goals, creating questions in this same way will ensure that you are getting the answers that you need. For example, try improving “how do the consumers feel?” by asking “how can we improve our online customer’s satisfaction to above 90% within twelve months?”
Set Measurement Guidelines
Using your questions, you will need to set the guidelines for your data. Think about what will need to be looked at and how it will be measured. Look at things like time-frame, the unit of measurement, and external factors. These data points could affect the outcome of your data analysis. In the above question, you’d need to look at recent customers that filled out a satisfaction survey, what they said, as well as outside factors that they might not realize were affecting them.
Sort the Data
With all that in mind, you will need to determine what data from your original set can be used. Sort this data according to usefulness in your selected program. There is a chance that your question might have lead to the need for new data and that’s ok. If this becomes the case, make sure that you gather data in such a way that you get all the answers that you need.
Analyze the Data
After you have the right questions, the right parameters, and the right data, it’s time to take a look at everything to see what you can learn. You should start by looking at your data from multiple angels like plotting, pivot tables, correlations, and filters. As you manipulate your data, you might find the exact data that you need. However, many times you will have questions that will require you to gather more data and start from the beginning.

During this step, taking a look at data analysis tools will be vital in helping you to sort through everything and find the answers that you are looking for. Visio, Minitab, Microsoft, and Stata are all options you have when it comes to data analysis and visualization. Finding what works best for you will help in using the data to its full potential.
Utilize the Results
After you’ve gathered, questioned, and analyzed the data, possibly multiple times, it’s time to put that data to use. You’ll want to ask how it answers your original question, or if it does at all. Look at how it will defend against objections and any limitations that the data presents.

If your data shows that most customers are upset with the online buying interface, make sure you know which interface they are talking about. Is it the mobile or the web? Could it be their browser or internet speed? By making sure you’ve looked at all the possible questions, you will know that your data has been used to the best it can be and that the answers you have are the best they can be.
How to Gather Data: A Brief
If you need to gather data during this process, you might be wondering how or what your best option is.

  • Think about the data you need. Look at what you need, what is available, and what would be useful.
  • Consider the cost of the new data. It will add costs with each point of data you add to the collection process. Think about the processing power, time consideration, budget, respondent fatigue, and data quality.
  • Consider data collections methods. Think about how you will get the data and if it will be freely accessible or if you will have to jump through ropes.
  • Determine the collection method. Depending on the answers to the previous step, an online survey, a person, or even cookies could get you what you need.

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