Over the past several years, more data has become available to businesses than ever before. Yet too often, we’re not using that data as effectively as we could: As many as 43% of businesses do not obtain adequate benefit from the data they collect, and around 23% note that they receive almost no measurable benefit from the data they collect.
What’s keeping those businesses from using data to its full advantage?
Proper data management techniques.
If you’re selling directly to consumers as a B2C company, data management has implications for both the success and security of your business. Not only is it crucial for protecting your customers’ information, but proper data management will also allow you to get valuable insights into your business and help guide your future strategy.
Data management can appear to be a complex and intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these best practices for both managing and monitoring your data, in addition to ensuring your data’s security, to help put your business on the path to success.
Best Practices in Data Management and Monitoring
First, let’s cover best practices in collecting, managing, and monitoring your data. With the right strategies, you can ensure that you’re collecting the most valuable information in the most accessible way for your team.
#1: Keep It Clean
Data collection and management can get messy more quickly than you think. All too often, your data storage will get bogged down with data that is poor quality, comes from inaccurate sources, or has become outdated over time. Before running any analytics, it’s critical that you make sure the data you’re using is clean.
This may include:
- Identifying potential spelling errors that could interfere with your data collection and information
- Standardizing your format for data entry
- Checking for duplicate records
Before you use the data that you’ve collected, you may also want to filter unwanted outliers, which could skew your analysis.
Keeping your data clean means training your team members on how to collect and process that data in a standard way, while also having an effective, typically automated system in place to help filter that data and keep it clean for future use.
#2: Use a High-Quality Data Management Solution
Good software is a vital part of your overall data management process. As you look for a data management system, make sure you consider these key elements:
- It needs to fit the specific needs of your business. Make sure it has the fields and functionality you need, whether that’s out-of-the-box or through customization.
- You need a data platform that will give you clear insights into your customers, including leads, current customers, and the buying cycle.
- It needs to be simple and intuitive enough for your team to use in their daily work. Don’t use a system that is too large or unwieldy to be a useful part of your operations.
Finally, make sure that you’re using a data management system designed for B2C businesses. You may need to use your data differently than a company that deals primarily with B2B transactions, and your data management system should reflect that.
#3: Keep It Simple
With modern data management systems, there’s a lot of data available to your business. It doesn’t take much for that data to become overwhelming. If you’re struggling to make sense of your existing data, it may be worth simplifying. What do you really need to know about your customers? What about your competitors? If you’re just beginning to think about your data management, keep it simple to start. Consider what you really need to know, what you really need to keep, and what probably isn’t worth tracking, and adapt your collection strategies accordingly. Remember that you can always expand the data you collect as you continue to grow.
#4: Make Your Data Accessible
Related to simplicity is accessibility. Few of your employees are likely interested in running SQL queries anytime they need a particular bit of data. Set up dashboards to provide them with an instant view of the numbers they most often need. You can also build automated reports to help your team sift through the noise and stay focused on what matters most.
Best Practices for Data Security
In addition to managing your data and making it useful, you need to keep it safe for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, you want to protect your business to ensure that competitors cannot access your data and that you have access to the information, platforms, and solutions you need to keep your business running smoothly. Data security is a critical part of making sure that your business remains in operation, particularly with cyberattacks up 17% over last year’s total by September of 2021.
#1: Control Access to Important Data
As a B2C business, you may have access to a wide range of information that your customers do not want to see compromised, whether that’s personal data or payment information. This information helps you do business more smoothly and effectively.
However, not every member of your team needs to access every piece of data. Control access, particularly when it comes to important or confidential data. Assign access based on what access your employees really need, which clients they work with, and their position in the company.
#2: Test Your Security Regularly
An annual pentest is about much more than ensuring compliance with industry standards. It’s also an opportunity to go above and beyond. Pentesters are able to breach an estimated 92% of the companies they test. Since pentesters are able to simulate the actions of a potentially malicious hacker, they can provide you with an in-depth, highly-effective look at any holes in your system.
By working with a pentesting company, you can help close those holes and avoid many of the threats that could challenge your company.
#3: Have a Robust Backup System
Carefully consider what data your company really needs in order to keep functioning efficiently, and make sure that you back it up regularly. Studies show that as many as 60% of data backups are incomplete, and 50% of backups fail when the company tries to implement them.
Ineffective data backups are not much better than no backups at all, and either could leave you struggling as you try to bring your business back up after a ransomware attack or data loss. By having a robust data backup system in place, you will be able to access that data when you need it, even if hackers attempt to steal access away from you.
Make sure you carefully consider what data, platforms, and solutions your company needs in order to keep operating efficiently even in the midst of a disaster or cyberattack, then carefully protect that data so you will be able to access it in the event of an emergency.
Data management and security have become an increasingly important part of businesses of all sizes. By instituting these key best practices, many businesses have found that they can use their data more effectively, giving them deeper insights into the needs of their customers, their internal operations, and the market.