Data is becoming easier to access, quicker to analyze, and cheaper to store. As a result, it provides incredible opportunities for organizations to see things from completely different perspectives. However, with an endless amount of data so readily available, a new challenge surfaces, what data should we be looking at?

To overcome the abundance of information, it is important to categorize data into two buckets. The first contains the data used to run your business. This type of data is similar to the information provided through the dashboard of your car. The dashboard only contains a few critical gauges, such as your speed and fuel level. The same holds true for running your business. You should routinely monitor 3-6 key metrics that are critical to success, for example, sales opportunities or customer service response times.

The other bucket of data is used to analyze your business. This is where you typically evaluate lots of information to answer specific questions. Back to your car, if the check engine light illuminates, a mechanic can run diagnostics on your vehicle to determine the reason why the light came on. In many cases, the diagnostics evaluates hundreds of data points. Your business follows a similar process, when you are trying to learn about something, you ask the simple question, why? Why did we see a spike in our sales last quarter? Why are our customer response times increasing? To answer these questions, you likely will have to evaluate a large amount of data to arrive at a meaningful conclusion.

With the vast and easy availability of data, it is always important to ask the question, what do you want to know? When you start here, you will likely get to your destination much quicker.

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