In light of the latest incidents of data sharing breaches, it’s become more crucial than ever for companies to understand the role of data and analytics in their business.
Since the Cambridge Analytica story made headlines, many businesses have been questioning what constitutes an appropriate use of data within their business landscape.

Certainly data should be ethically sourced and protected, particularly sensitive client information, but used correctly, data serves a very important purpose.

ZaiLab data analyst Sanneke Brok believes measuring and analyzing data is essential for the success of any enterprise. She uses data and analytics to help marketers, product owners and directors make strategic decisions.

Brok shares her insight on how data and analytics can be used to grow businesses.

What are data and analytics?

Data can be defined as ‘things known’ and analytics is ‘the art’ of manipulating and displaying these known things in such a way that it becomes meaningful information. Within the business context, data and analytics are vital inputs for fact-based decision making and help overcome biases and opposing opinions.

How does data and analytics fit into the current business landscape?

Today, businesses are driven by strong hierarchies and bureaucratic tendencies. Customer-centric strategies aren’t as widespread yet. Data and analytics are there to help businesses understand and target specific segments of their customers and how they interact with the business. From the moment that companies adopt this mindset, a change to a more fact-based way of decision making occurs and drives a customer-centric approach which pays off in long-term profits.

Not every business understands the importance of data and how one can utilize data to improve business efficiency across all operations.

Data in itself is meaningless, analyzing data correctly gives you a clear picture of your customer groups, your product and how successful your business is and will be in the long term.

Moreover, using statistics and models for your data will help you target the right customer with the right message, set the right pricing strategy and optimize sales and service channels. What businesses need to understand is that analyzing your data continuously will help you monitor your results and adjust in time where necessary.

How can the practice of analyzing data be used in business for a better understanding of client dynamics?

Firstly, the data needs to be captured and stored (with permission of course).

Secondly, business analysts and mathematicians need to be trained to work with very large datasets.

Lastly, it will be important to focus on consulting skills. There are lots of incredibly intelligent data professionals, but bringing this specialised knowledge across to business leaders requires specific skills. It is important to understand the context of the business and to be able to explain your results in layman’s terms.

What challenges are we currently facing around implementing data-driven strategies and ensuring that they are aligned with laws and consumer protection policies?

The biggest challenge is for business leaders to be open to a data-driven strategy. The results from data analysis can clash with longstanding visions and opinions.

For a fact-based strategy to pay off, it needs to be supported in all layers of the company. Also, setting up a well-functioning data warehouse can be a technical challenge. On the bright side, legislation isn’t as strict as in Europe and The States and compliance should, therefore, be less of a hurdle.

This is a practice that we have adopted at ZaiLab to ensure that we utilize our business data and analytics to enhance how we operate in an agile environment. Many businesses still need to adapt this trend, especially in start-up environments. In my opinion, using AI will be more beneficial in a company that makes decisions and evaluations based on data and has a solid data structure in place.