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  • Writer's picturePeter O'Sullivan

Information Overload – How to make (tons of) Data your Friend

Managers are overloaded with information. And with a trend toward a more Internet-connected and more Data-Intensive world – we all know the problem is not going to get any better.

But like many business trends, there are those who ignore the issue until they are defeated and those that embrace the opportunity and realize success. The retail industry has seen dramatic changes in the competitive landscape. Giants like Sears and Toys R Us are among dozens who have filed for bankruptcy just last year, while others have thrived. Walmart’s Ecommerce sales have increased 63% even while competing with the master of all data-driven companies, Amazon. But if only Sears had seen the future through data – few would argue they would have fallen as they did.

The problem is, while most agree that leveraging data is a necessary strategy, even fewer know what steps to take to engage in a data-driven strategy.

The good news is – it is not as hard as it may seem. There is an abundance of tools and resources to help you. And you can start today by simply focusing on a few changes in how you manage the data you already use.

Here are some tips -

1. Always make it Accurate

Data that is inaccurate is the worst sin – because you may make decisions that result in terrible outcomes as a result. Managers are paid to make decisions – good decisions. Data-driven decision-making is literally the intersection between people and machines. Screw it up with bad information and you defeat the entire purpose of decision-making itself.

2. Organize It (visually)

Too much information often just means that the data is just not organized in such a way that we can easily or quickly understand. One very effective technique is to use visual tools to organize data.

3. Make it Timely

Getting information that you have 30 miles of fuel in your gas tank can be incredibly valuable – unless it is provided at mile 30.1 (or out of range of a gas station). Information must be timely to have value and often “too much” information is simply data that is not needed at that specific time.

4. Ensure that it is needed

If you have information that is unrelated to your task or objectives – it has little value. And more data does not solve this. If you are running out of gas, directions to 100 different restaurants is distracting. Directions to just 3 gas stations that are close is infinitely more valuable.

Focusing on organizing accurate, timely and highly relevant information is the key. And if presented in a highly organized way, you can greatly enhance your ability to use and leverage the data that is coming. Once you start embracing and investing in a data-driven strategy, the world of opportunities opens and your outlook for business becomes full of challenges and new actions. Or, you can always wait for the industry to pass you by.

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