Data is one of the key elements of understanding and running a business and keeping an eye on the numbers is a sure way to help move your company forwards.

But when it comes to understanding that data, it can be a very different proposition. For example, you might be in charge of your business but are you an expert in analysing all of the data types you might need? If you are, do you actually have time to deal with the amount you are trying to take on?

Business data comes in all forms, from profit and loss, balance sheets, income and expenditure, cashflow, right through to sales and marketing success, website analytics, and even energy expenditure.

When it comes to energy, many companies have little idea just how much they are using or why, which means you have almost no chance of cutting costs on your energy bills – and these can be significant. Love Energy Savings, an energy comparison service for businesses, estimates that the typical small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the UK spends £5,272 a year on their energy bills, but that 60% of these never look to get a better deal with a different supplier.

A government directive means that businesses should have an advanced or smart meter installed by 2020, and despite the potential benefits to business users, as yet 87% of the 1,000 business owners surveyed had not yet got a smart meter installed. Interestingly, 61% said they did not even use the information from their energy meter, whether it was smart or not.

Some businesses are using energy meters to get smarter about their energy usage, even though they are in the minority. Just over a quarter of those surveyed said they used the data to budget for energy use, while 23% actively use it to make changes at their overall usage.

This seems strange. When the analysis of so much data is essential to make your business run efficiently, to actually have data on your energy usage to hand and not use it does not make much sense. You may, as the business owner, be very aware of your energy costs, but whether your staff are as energy aware as you are – since they do not pay the bill – is a moot point.

When it comes to cutting costs, energy is one area to seriously consider. Most businesses who look for a better deal on comparison website Love Energy end up saving an average of £1,700 a year, and that is based on no difference in energy usage. If you combine a new deal with a more energy-efficient mindset among staff, then the savings could be even more.

That is money you can reinvest in your business to move things forward even faster.

By Ali Steed, founder of The Business Powerhouse