Data can be powerfully helpful or powerfully destructive to your business. Learn from a data expert how to make data useful.

CREDIT: Getty Images
CREDIT: Getty Images

Big data, data analytics, data management–in the past, these were areas of concern for enterprise companies. Today, both large and small companies can benefit from the extensive increase in data gathering. There is data available that can answer almost any question we care to ask. That is if we can access it in a way that makes sense. Many companies purport to know how to harness data for successful growth, but there are lots of phonies.

During a recent episode of my podcast, YPO 10 Minute Tips From the Top, I interviewed data expert Asha Saxena, the CEO of Future Technologies, Inc. Saxena’s company has been busy offering products and service in data management for healthcare, media and finance clients.

Saxena, a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), explained how companies are struggling to take advantage of the abundance of data today. If managed well, data can be powerful. Used incorrectly, it can take you down a rabbit hole or eat up precious resources. Here are Saxena’s tips on how to get what you need from data so you can grow.

  1. Ask the right questions.

Just collecting data gets you nowhere if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Saxena recommends setting up a plan with specific questions that you want the data to answer. “Collecting data will not magically turn into more sales. The data that is collected is only as good as the questions are being asked around it,” says Saxena. “When collecting data, companies must start by asking questions and what they are trying to obtain and solve from the data.”

  1. Collect data relevant to answering the questions.

Once you actually have the questions in place, then it is crucial to collect data that is relevant to answering those questions. There is simply no point in getting data that will not help you solve your problem. “There is so much data available more easily and companies are collecting everything but don’t know what to do with it. The companies that are growing are those that understand the data correctly and not collecting volumes for the sake of collecting it,” adds Saxena.

  1. Analyze the data to find the answers.

Once the right data has been collected, companies must analyze the data in order to find the trends that it reveals about the questions you asked. “For the data to be useful, it has to all tie together,” she adds. “A company must look to see if they have collected the right data so ‘it’s not garbage in and garbage out.’ This will help to adopt and embrace the data.”