You may know what big data is and how it can benefit your company, but all of that information is useless unless you understand how data should be analyzed. In this article, we’ll take a look at some ways data can be analyzed to become useful for your company.
Find out What Kind of Data You’re Looking For
The first step for analyzing data is to understand what it is you hope to find. Are you looking to expand your business or looking for trends that will tailor your next product? Maybe you want to start a content marketing campaign and want to know what demographic to hit. Before you begin analyzing, you have to have a starting point. It’s okay if you find other uses for your data sets that you didn’t expect to find, but it’s important to have a clear direction before you move forward.
Also look inward at your own business. What do you think needs improvement? Is there a department that could benefit from a better understanding of data? The more forethought you put into big data uses, the easier your analysis will be.
Have a Base Line
Before you even begin analyzing, you need to collect data. This process should begin the moment you are able to. The earlier back your data sets go, the easier it will be able to see how patterns have changed over time.
Once you establish a baseline to work with, you will be able to see what kind of impact you are having on your industry as you press forward. You can never get those base analytics back once you start moving, so make sure to record them as soon as you can.
When you start looking at your data, you have to decide how you want to analyze it. If someone in your office is skilled with simple organizational programs such as Excel, you may be able to do a rough analysis of your data in-house. If you want a more thorough examination, you can look at local colleges or universities which are capable of handling much larger data sets.
Alternatively, you can find a data broker that specializes in data collection and analysis. They can also provide an advisory role to your business as they find and understand patterns in your data sets, or compare them to other “control” sets.
Qualitative vs Quantitative
When you start collecting data, you’ll notice that there are two kinds: Qualitative and Quantitative.
Quantitative data are the “hard numbers”. How many people purchased your product, what is the average age of your demographic, how many visitors came to your website – those are all number based. You can look at a statistic and build from there. These sets can easily be obtained by simply looking at data that is already available to you.
Qualitative data speaks to the quality of something. Someone’s physical reaction to an experience, their body language, how soft they consider a new couch – those are all describing qualities. In some instances, qualitative can be turned into quantitative, but that is subject to what kind of scale you establish ahead of time. Qualitative data can be obtained through direct means such as surveys in which a participant is asked to rank their reactions on a scale.
Which form of data is more important to you depends on what you hope to accomplish with your data, but both kinds have strengths that you can leverage during the analysis phase.
When looking at a particular data set, you’re primarily looking for trends. If you have a specific statistic you’re looking for ahead of time, this will help guide your search. Be open to finding trends you weren’t expecting to find, or ones that run counter to what you anticipated.
Sometimes you’ll have to go back and collect more data before you see any patterns emerge. You can also swap data with another company, either inside your industry or not, as a way to have a look at another demographic or find a control set you can compare to.
Analyzing data can be a daunting task. Venture Development Center is a full service data consulting group that is ready to answer any of your questions. Feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us!
Have any tips for analyzing data? Leave them in the comment below!