Information has been the driving force of success for many modern businesses. This is because an advanced understanding of the implementation, impact, and consequences of data on a company can promote better awareness of its operations and maximize outcomes. In fact, according to a 2016 McKinsey report, companies that embrace data and analytics can experience significant returns, specifically, a 6 to 9% revenue increase.
This means it’s a no-brainer for businesses to embrace data, but that’s the only first step. The next step is understanding that data, followed by gaining actionable insights. And to do either of those things effectively, data contextualization is key. In this article we’ll investigate how contextualization can be a critical player in business strategy and shaping the future of business.
What Is Your Data Telling You?
To be helpful, data needs to tell a story to help stakeholders understand successes, challenges, future trends, and make smarter decisions. But reports and numbers on their own don’t help – the information needs to be presented in a way that is easily understood and benefits the reader. Traditional data analytics can be static and tabular, failing to capture the evolution of complex data relationships. That’s where contextualization comes in. By connecting the dots between data from disparate sources, you can transform data into stories and gain richer insights.
By definition, “contextualization” means adding related information to something in order to
make it more useful. This can mean including background information, patterns, trends, outliers, and more, to help a reader make sense of what the data is really saying. For example, in the retail industry, a reported drop in sales during a given month is not valuable without considering things like traffic patterns, previous benchmarks, holidays, and more. Once you have all of that information, a story begins to emerge. It could be that the drop in sales happened over a holiday weekend when most customers go out of town, and isn’t anything to worry about. Or it could be a troubling trend that requires attention. More generally, when data is properly contextualized, businesses can use it to guide customer relationships, improve marketing strategies, predict future economic trends, and manage risk.
Leveraging Data Stories to Enhance Productivity
There are many ways in which data and data storytelling can benefit a business, but one that has overarching implications is contextualizing data to boost productivity. When armed with data – and meaningful insights – businesses can create higher performing teams which lead to better outcomes overall.
When business leaders have real-time, contextualized data, they can be more effective and make good decisions for their team and the company. They can guide their
teams in the right direction, create happy and healthy work environments, and boost staff morale – all of which has positive impacts on the bottom line. But, just gathering vast amounts of data and randomly sifting through it will not add value to you, your team, or the business. In fact, it could be detrimental as you lost valuable time to an ineffective task. Instead, managers can create value by identifying the right data and generating useful insights.
Better Data Means Better Outcomes
Once you’re sure you’re measuring and collecting information on the right things, you can apply that information to move the business forward. Contextualized data can help leaders within an organization get better at their jobs by identifying opportunities, forecasting trends, and spotting red flags. When managers have a firm grasp of their team’s activities and outputs, they have a full picture of how they’re driving results and meeting goals (or not). In doing that, they can also provide their team with real-time, evidence-based feedback that supports them and ensures success. With a bird’s eye view of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activities, leaders can make more informed decisions and tweak current strategies to get more desirable outcomes.
For example, if a manager sees that Production Team A is consistently missing a specific deadline, data contextualization can help them identify the cause and make adjustments to fix it. Without that data, or an understanding of what it’s saying, the problem could continue for years without resolution. Humans are complex beings and there are often many factors influencing outcomes so it’s important for leaders to have the full picture.
Data can be used to inform and influence many areas that affect team productivity, including:
- Employee experience: knowing what makes a team happier often leads to higher productivity. Whether it’s working remotely, offering childcare, or team building experiences, gathering and understanding this data allows leaders to identify and track what works and what doesn’t.
- Employee retention: the ability to predict when a team member may leave the organization can have far-reaching effects, influence process improvements and help reallocate tasks and projects.
- Cloud-based apps: many organizations offer their employees platforms for communication and collaboration and ensuring that everyone is using them consistently can create efficiencies in process, reporting, and performance.
Data storytelling will continue to have an impactful role in the business world, and most importantly, contextualizing this data will allow companies to make smarter decisions and maximize outcomes. Understanding what data is saying and using that information to increase productivity is just one way that contextualization can help shape the future of business.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a data expert to interpret and dissect valuable data for your business. At Gemini Data, we help businesses optimize their processes through powerful data visualization techniques. Our advanced analytics solutions will make it easier to compare trends and visualize projections. Contact us today, and we’ll provide the right analytics solutions for you!