August 10, 2017
Data analysis options are constantly growing. Companies, especially those with strong e-commerce components, are developing dizzying amounts of raw data on user preferences, habits and locations. This information, paired with the growing field of artificial intelligence applications, means that companies can get very granular views of how people are interacting with their marketing or products, and through far fewer hours of human labor. Firms can also get a far wider view of the market as a whole, leading to trend predictions and better plans on how to shift resources.
As there are a lot of options of what to look for, and why, when sorting through the data, we asked 15 YEC entrepreneurs how they use big data to make better decisions. This is what they said:
Identify Critical Pieces of Data
The human brain is not designed to process large amounts of information. Trying to understand complex pieces of data will cause entrepreneurs to freeze up, or worse, never get around to using it. Instead, focus on converting big data into smaller chunks of usable pieces of information. Identify the critical pieces of data that you can apply to your business, and break it down into smaller chunks. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
Look to Effectively Visualize Data
Everyone from startups to Fortune 500 ventures have more access to data than ever, but excess data can often impede rather than inform the decision-making process. The first step, then, is to visualize data effectively — to pull real information from the static. Companies don't just need data — they need quality data, and smart data visualization is essential for making data make sense. – Amy Balliett, Killer Infographics
Feed Information into Training Models
Large quantities of cleaned structured data is an essential precursor to using machine learning and AI techniques. We feed customer data into our training models to find patterns, correlations and other information that may not have been evident with traditional techniques. We apply AI toward understanding customer service queries and personalizing customer experiences, etc. – Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
Identify Trends and Optimize Targets
Real estate is a complex process, saturated with untapped information. Technology platforms like ours are expanding on the work of pioneers like Zillow and Trulia to collect and dissect metrics throughout the entire transaction, allowing us to identify trends, optimize our targets and make automated decisions on projects in minutes rather than days. – Nav Athwal, RealtyShares
Collect Evidence That Narrows Your Choices
The data provides evidence that your decisions should go a certain way, because the numbers are validating your decision for you. It's when there are no numbers to back up a decision that I get nervous, so big data has helped to build the confidence to go a certain way, even if others think different. You have the numerical evidence right there. – Angela Ruth, Due
Brainstorm Ideas, Then Look at the Numbers
I think the creative process needs to be independent of the decision-making process. All decisions should be data-driven, while all ideas should come from a more creative place that's not constrained by metrics. Once you have a bunch of great ideas, sit down with your analytics person and map out the possibilities. Then, when implementing, track the progress. If something isn't working, abort! – Bryce Welker, Crush The CPA Exam
Discover What Your Customers Value
Our company uses data to help our clients make data-driven decisions. The data is used in all departments, from marketing to accounting. We research and try to find out what exactly our potential clients need. Is it cost-cutting? Increases in productivity? Often times, we are overloaded with data. The secret is to zoom in on what is most important for you and your client. – Kevin Hong, The Outlier Approach
Look for the Broad Strokes
It's not my experience that diving as deep into the data as you can provides insights. Instead, it makes me want to second-guess myself and get paranoid about moving forward. You can and should trust your instincts for your product and market, but big data is great for broad strokes of understanding. Target the big trends first, and apply your own instincts to that. – Adam Steele, The Magistrate
Pinpoint Turning Points in Customer Calls
You can use computational insight to make data driven decisions on weaker areas you may overlook. For example, if majority of callers are hanging up on your agents at a particular step, it means that you have to improve that one step. Big data saves the man hours that would've otherwise been needed to pinpoint the turning points in each call and what exact areas needed to be improved. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
Large Scale Data Highlights Sticking Points for Loans
My own business is involved with helping businesses access and improve their business credit scores, so I use big data in several ways. It's important for me to keep up with the latest numbers involving business loans and how credit ratings affect one's ability to secure a loan. I also track data related to business success and failure, which is often related to cash flow and access to credit. – Shawn Porat, Scorely
Researching Subscriptions Helps With Content Strategy
We've looked at the history of our email sign up subscriptions on a month-to-month basis, and we've tried tweaking our content strategy to provide better and more relevant content during the slower months. So far, we've seen somewhat of a trend shift in that area, to our benefit. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
Track Statistics on Mobile Device Features
Because my business is in the field of SMS marketing, I have to closely watch all data related to mobile devices. It's crucial for me to understand what features people and businesses need and use most. I also track statistics on what kind of apps people use the most and what kind of content — such as images, videos or text — converts best for mobile campaigns. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
Improve Marketing to Expand Efficiently
As we are constantly reinventing ourselves and determining new verticals to expand into, we look at big data to determine who and how we target our efforts and marketing budgets. This helps us stay focused on the proper marketing channels and target markets, without wasting too much money on frivolous efforts. – Jacob Tanur, Click Play Films
Think With Google
It’s always nice to get something back from the data companies you and your competitors are paying large sums of money, so it’s a no-brainer to read — and act on — all of the original research and insights Google shares via its Think With Google platform. – Sam Saxton, Paragon Stairs
Cut Through the Noise and Focus on Actionable Data
It is easy to become consumed with acquiring large data sets and software stacks to perform analytics. The key is to focus on a handful of elements are truly actionable for your business and then hammer down on these to drive decisions. Most companies will benefit from cutting through the noise and isolating a selection of actionable data sets rather than a broad approach. – Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP
Read more about artificial intelligence on TechCo
The answers above are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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