You might be thinking, what is the next step for my business, or how can I improve my services? The good news is that in the digital era, there are many ways and tools to take your company ahead. Applying Business Intelligence (BI) is an important matter that you need to take in consideration if you want to be competitive and successful nowadays.
Business Intelligence is the group of strategies and tools that are helpful to transform information and data in knowledge and insights for business decision-making, and one of the best tools to accomplish this is data collection. Let’s talk about it and how it can help you to take the next step in your business.
First things first, what is data collection?
As its name recalls, data collection is the process of gathering user data, and its purpose is to use it to make well-informed business decisions, planning new steps for the company and much more. The data usually provides critical information that can lead the business to great performance and results because, among several benefits, it can help you to predict possible actions from the target audience, clients, or users of your business/company.
So, if you run a company, keep reading to understand more how the data collection methods can benefit you and the many ways you can ethically collect information from your clients or users.
When should I perform data collection?
There are many opportunities to gather data, IT systems can do it on your employees or customers, they can organize the data that comes out of your sales, website, or your other business operations. It is key, though, that your IT team is ready to collect data and organize it in the most important moments of the customer journey.
Other methods of data collection are surveys or listening reports on social media, in which companies can track what customers, clients, and the public in general are saying about their brand or company on the web. All of this information is a gold mine in the hands of a Data scientist or analyst who can translate it into meaningful information for your next steps as a company.
What types of data exist?
There are different types of data that is essential to know. You can collect quantitative data which is numerical, like prices, statistics, or percentages or qualitative data which is descriptive, it can elaborate on user behaviors and opinions, also it can showcase colors, appearances, anything that can help you describe something. Another valuable option for using data in your business is the secondary data, this is offered by government entities, social or scientific studies developed by universities.
Make sure the information is reliable, and that you will be able to use it for decision-making processes in your business.
Now that you know what data collection is and, roughly, how it can help your company, let’s talk about the different options that you have to extract it, organize it, and use it to your advantage.
What are the different methods of data collection?
There are several types of data collection that can be used to gather desired information from the target audience:
- Data can come to you through information services suppliers, in this case, the company usually would have to pay for the data available. You can use this option if you want to have information from market research done on a specific community or group of people, or to get to know the broader behavior of a larger audience or group of potential clients.
- Some sensors can collect data from vehicles and other industrial equipment, this one comes in handy when you want to optimize processes in your company, and it belongs to a production or industrial sector.
- Digital listening is a type of research in which a social media or digital expert conducts an extensive investigation through the web, finding what people are saying about a business, specific topic or even your competition. It is often made with analytics tools that are developed to gather large amounts of data, which can be deeply analyzed to find trends or special topics that can get your brand or company ahead of others. Furthermore, it is also critical when it comes to decision-making or to determine if a product or service is being well received by the target audience.
- Automated data collection functions. These can be built into websites that gather information about the visitors such as location, actions on the page, or through different apps that can access a user’s digital behavior, gender, age, specific interests and much more. It is crucial to remember that every user must be informed about the data that is being collected about them, to keep the process legal and ethical, hence, the user should approve the usage of their data.
- Surveys, questionnaires, and forms are a great way to collect data, nowadays, there are tools like Mailchimp or Google Forms among many others, that are quite helpful when it comes to design, send and manage collected data.
Other data collection methods and tools
There are other data collection tools to collect data that don’t require specific technology, but are worth the mention:
- Focus groups or interviews. Data collection is carried out through the formulation of direct and specific research questions to a small but representative group. Focus groups are one of the most commonly used forms of research in scientific studies or market research to measure information and learn the opinion of consumers about a product, service, or brand.
- Direct observation of a group of people, mostly used in scientific research, but it is helpful in every business. We recommend you to observe what your clients do at your business, the places they enjoy the most, the frequently asked questions, and the suggestions for improvement. All of that is valuable data that will help your business be the best it can be.
What data sources can you use to collect the data?
Now that you know about some ways used to collect data effectively, you have the power to strengthen your business intelligence, which will give you what you need to make strategic and analytic decisions based on pure data. Here are a few sources where you can obtain data from:
- IoT Systems (Internet of Things): All the information that is offered by smart homes, electronic devices or smart buildings in general. They obtain data about the behaviors of users that is handy to upgrade services.
- Mobile Apps: which can collect personal information about the users with permission.
- Financial transactions: It’s quite a delicate field but in the banking industry and for security, the information of transactions is always collected and filed.
Why is data collection important?
Now let’s dive in the benefits that data collection can bring to your business:
- Cost reductions: Data collection can help you identify the time investments your employees or collaborators are doing and redirect them into more productive endeavors. Apps like Clockify can help you on this front.
- Obtaining transparent information: If you gather your data in a legal and transparent way, you will get transparent data. All the information you can get about your clients, being sensitive like ID numbers or private details or more public like gender and geolocalization needs to be acquired transparently, so it is accurate. When you have clear data it can allow you to make adjustments to your business, software or place of work.
- Creating new products or services: If your team can make the correct analysis on the data you have collected, it can help you understand the gaps in the service that your clients are seeing, or identify something they need to improve their lives, evaluate outcomes, among other things. Here, your creative team can start developing new products or improvements to your workflow.
What are the challenges in conducting data collection?
If you are interested in starting with data collection practices you should know what are the most common challenges you will face in the process, here we list some of them, so be prepared to take notes!
Finding Data that Actually Matters
There are a lot of systems to navigate and a lot of ways to compile data, so at times the information can become very repetitive or just empty. To resolve this problem, we recommend the use of data curation, the process in which data is revised and organized, so it is easier to select valuable information. To accomplish data curation it is almost necessary to create data catalogs, those are helpful to categorize data, organize it and classify it correctly.
Problems with Data Quality
Accurate data collection is essential, but it will be normal to find mistakes, inconsistencies, or errors in the information. That is why the selection of appropriate data collection methods is crucial. You should apply data profiling to identify the most quantity of errors in the data collection you can, and clean or erase data that doesn’t work. It is very important to do this because bad data can lead you to bad business decisions.
You can get very excited with data collection and start gathering as much information as you can, but this can become a problem because you will have to clean, profile and categorize large amounts of raw data and most of the efforts put on collecting it can be missed. Our recommendation is to have clarity on the objectives of your data collection and decide what information you want to get.
Now that you know a bit more about data collection, you should start by detecting which data you need to collect and what methods and sources you are going to use. You can always schedule an appointment with us to give you the best advice on how to start, what software to use and best practices about storing, categorizing and curating data.
Are you interested in collecting data? Leave a comment telling us what your questions are about it!