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The sheer volume of global data available is staggering and constantly growing. Incredibly, 90% of all data is digital and was created in the past two years. This trend shows little sign of abating and, according to analysts IDC, the digital data universe will continue to double in size every two years.

But what does this mean for business?

The speed and growth of data generation has pushed the issue of data management to the top of the business agenda. While organisations recognise that data is key – with 99% of organisations think some form of data is essential for marketing success – only 20% of businesses have a company-wide data strategy in place. Even amongst those who do have a strategy, 83% admit revenue is affected by inaccurate or incomplete data and only 50% have a measurement framework in place.

The opportunities presented to businesses by this data explosion are matched only by the challenges they face in terms of capturing, analysing and ultimately turning it into actionable intelligence. Of course, not all data produced is of value, but there is no doubt that in today’s digital marketplace, data is a key.

If approached correctly, there is no doubt that by employing an over-arching data intelligence strategy, businesses can reap huge rewards. But often, businesses don’t know where to begin or how best to implement a strategy of this kind. Here, leading digital marketing, technology and commerce agency, Amaze, lifts the lid on the key steps for delivering real value through data.

The five steps for data management success can be summarised as follows:

  1. Implement a centralised data strategy
One of the main challenges that businesses face when it comes to intelligence is that different parts of the organisation store data in silos, with no joined-up approach to capturing and analysing this data. By building a data intelligence roadmap as part of a wider intelligence strategy, organisations can benchmark performance, identify intelligence opportunities and start to deliver appropriate, actionable strategies.

It is key to obtain buy-in from stakeholders up front, by demonstrating the value that can be gained from a data intelligence strategy, and how this can enable them to make better strategic business decisions.

  1. Connect with your audience
All too often the prospect of having a meaningful dialogue with customers, with a view to building an on-going relationship, intimidates businesses. Yet by taking a sophisticated approach to encouraging a value exchange in which consumers are willing to share information if they get value in return, organisations can create a consistent, continuous and complementary experience for users.

What is important here is to encourage rather than dictate conversations, and to be agile enough to react to data opportunities in real-time. By facilitating such a value exchange, organisations can create a consistent, continuous and complementary experience for users across multiple devices.

  1. Empower your team
It cannot be stressed enough that while data quality and governance is hugely important; it is the people who transform information into knowledge. Investment in these people is vital.

It is essential for an organisation to appoint a senior level ‘champion’ to drive data intelligence, and to implement an on-going communication strategy throughout the programme’s journey.

  1. Demonstrate value
For a digital intelligence strategy to really add value, it ultimately needs to have a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom line. Many organisations focus on maximising the opportunities to capture smart data and do not put enough effort into maximising the value that comes out of it.

Central to this is to swiftly identify opportunities for quick wins, in order to demonstrate value up front and to communicate the results of these projects internally to ensure buy-in from the leadership team.

  1. Optimise, optimise, optimise
Many marketers are still planning and budgeting their digital investments using a traditional model of ‘launch and forget’. In today’s digital world companies should operate on the principle of permanent beta and adopt a customer-centric model using real-time data to support performance optimisation strategies. The launch is simply the start of the opportunity, not the end. In addition, optimisation should be pervasive across a business with reach into every department rather than it being a standalone function.

The results of such an approach speak for themselves, with 78% of companies that adopt a structured approach to testing witnessing improved sales and 23% seeing large increases.

Data, and the knowledge it can enable, has the potential to revolutionise business performance. However, it does require an ongoing commitment and investment that infiltrates all areas of an organisation, and is constantly reviewed. It’s a big challenge take on, all while empowering employees to become better analysts, yet the benefits that can be reaped are well worth the outlay, if you get the steps right.

By Paul Carysforth, Head of Digital Intelligence at Amaze