Written by Nick Brown
Posted on 30/11/2015

See off your competition by becoming a data-driven ninja

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It’s abundantly clear in the digital world that properly harnessed data is an essential weapon. The data-driven enterprise uses data to inform sound strategies and shrewd decisions, besting competitors who simply don’t have the technology or corporate culture needed to unleash it. Attaining data-driven ninja status is not easy though. Having lots of data is really just the start, because it needs to be collected, cleansed, integrated, managed, accessed, secured and properly analysed to work its magic.

One ninja is never enough

Data should be used by clued-up people company-wide, not by a closeted guru somewhere. If your organisation is serious about seeing off the competition, you need to make sure that BI and other analytical tools are being exploited by all kinds of employees. They need to be able to use and access the systems as part of the everyday. As with any true skill, it starts with proper training, from the boardroom to the front lines.

Where next?

The data-driven ninja - and his or her like-minded colleagues – is always thinking about where they want to go and how to get there. For rapid, smooth progress they create Key Performance Indicators that track improvement and monitor company-wide activity to make sure that important goals, company practices and technology implementations are synchronised. This all contributes to the smooth integration of data into the wider strategy and transforms efficiency, customer service and ultimately profitability.

 Not just faster, but better

Companies often focus on using big data analytics to make better decisions more quickly, but there is also huge potential for spotting opportunities and risks. These might have lain dormant or hidden before, simply because the technology wasn’t in place to spot them or people just weren’t asking the right questions.

Questioning the questions

The old-school approach to leveraging knowledge or insights from a database was simply to ask established questions and wait for wisdom. There’s an assumption here that the familiar questions are the best ones to ask, but that might not be true. The data-driven company has an ethos of improvement when it comes to questions. What else should we be asking? What questions are yet to be asked?

Getting it wrong can be right

The data-driven ninja knows that failure is sometimes inevitable when you’re innovating. Many companies invest in BI, big data and analytics and then get cautious – stifling experimentation among ‘non-specialist’ employees. Risk taking is an inherent part of beating the opposition and being progressive.

Learn from the masters

Although data-driven companies encourage cross-departmental collaboration and pervasive involvement, they also use data scientists and machine learning to keep the absolute cutting edge in keen and power continuous improvement. Names such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft are just a few of those doing exactly this to forge stronger, longer lasting relationships with customers and wrong foot competitors. Every self-respecting ninja knows that the path of wisdom starts with a master…