Data collection is the process of accumulating information and analyzing variables of interest. Businesses of all industries use data collection and analysis to further their initiatives — so much so that the big data and business analytics market is projected to triple in size by 2030.
Essentially, data collection can be separated into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data is tangible and numerical, while qualitative data is based on observations of characteristics. However, both can be analyzed in numerical forms to conclude real, day-to-day implications for your business.
How Data Is Collected
The first step to using data for organizational change is to collect the data properly. If you are looking to improve internal processes, you will be collecting internal data. While there are many ways to collect internal and consumer data, there is typically a clear method for your desired results.
Whether it’s direct or indirect, internal or external, data collection must be done ethically and methodically. Without a strategy and proper disclosures in place, data may easily be misconstrued and misused. First, you must pick a method of collection. Common data collection methods used in business intelligence efforts include:
- Interviews and focus groups;
- Behavioral observation;
- Engagement tracking.
All of these methods may be used across various platforms and scenarios. For instance, consumer behavior may be observed in person at a brick-and-mortar store. It may include tracking digital behavior before consumers make an online purchase. Engagement may be tracked by simply counting social media likes, views, and comments; or you may choose to analyze a heatmap of how viewers of your site interact with each page.
Benefits of Data Collection for a Business
Whichever method of data collection you choose, make sure to have an end goal in mind. Internal and external data is only helpful to your business strategy if you know how to translate that data into real-life implications and practices. You may opt to only
collect data that aligns with your business goals, or you may use tools to collect as much data as possible. This way, you have data to work off of if you change directions in the future. Historical data is also a fantastic way to highlight growth when reporting various aspects of business growth.
Understanding Customer Behavior
Businesses often operate primarily with the customer in mind. After all, customers typically provide the majority of your revenue. Data makes it possible to understand customer behavior on a granular level. Some of the aspects that influence customer behavior include:
Even if you have created an ideal customer profile — or buyer persona — people are multifaceted and don’t always act according to historical data. This means that sales may decrease at a time of year when they may have increased previously. Fortunately, the aspects listed above can be assessed.
You may end up with multiple customer personas. You also may come up with different results depending on a variety of factors — like timing, societal influence, or location. If your methodology is clean and precise, you will be able to use this data to refine your business to the exact preferences of your customer base, thus increasing sales and customer loyalty.
Enhanced Marketing Insights
With a better understanding of customer preferences, you can refine your marketing strategy. Doing so helps with potential customer identification and acquisition. Marketing efforts also come with their own valuable data points, such as:
- Ad performance;
- Conversion rates;
- Organic traffic;
- Social media traffic.
With insights into marketing performance, you can tweak the messaging, imagery, timing, and campaign budgets to reach your highest marketing potential.
Personalized Service Offerings
Data analysis also helps you cater your services directly to the customer. Even your marketing messaging can be personalized. With this personalization, the majority of consumers are more likely to repurchase and recommend products.
However, it’s best to play around with the levels at which you personalize ads and services. If you’re too heavy-handed with this personalization, you may inevitably cross a personal boundary with consumers. Ultimately, there is a sweet spot within this personalization that data can help with.
Internal Organizational Growth
A deeper understanding of what makes your employees tick can be a business savior. Focusing on customer data is crucial, but it’s worthwhile to look inward at your internal processes. Consider tracking:
- Adoption rates of new tech;
- Company email open rates;
- Employee engagement;
- Employee turnover;
- Internal feedback;
These internal KPIs include plenty of qualitative data that can be gathered through digital methods. Assign someone from human resources to take a deep dive into this data, sifting through and making sense of the array of responses. Each KPI will also likely influence the other, so make note of how employee satisfaction is affecting other aspects of your business.
Common Data Collection Jobs
Data collection is an art form in its own right. With the daily requirements of running a business, it may be hard to find time to get your hands on data and pull out useful information. However, the importance of doing so for your business is abundantly clear.
For this reason, it may be in your best interest to have a background in IT. If you have — or are currently pursuing — a master’s degree in business (MBA), there are courses designed to teach you business data collection and analysis. Leaning into these programs can help you understand the meaning behind data points and apply this knowledge to better your business.
If you are specifically interested in data collection as a career path, there are several common data collection careers to look into. These may include:
- Business intelligence analyst;
- Data analyst consultant;
- Data architect;
- Data engineer;
- Data scientist;
- Junior and senior data analyst;
These similar positions are also able to be created within your own company. Bringing on someone with data collecting in their background can give your business a data-backed boost.
Desired Skills for Data Collection Jobs
Data collection involves gathering, cleaning, processing, analyzing, and reporting highly complex information. Often, professionals in this field will need specialized skills to do this job proficiently. Some of the most desired skills are:
- Computer science and programming;
- Critical thinking;
- Data visualization;
- Human resource skills;
- Presentation skills.
Advanced technical skills — such as structured query language (SQL) — are often necessary to sift through data and make sense of the digital chaos. With the ability to navigate an endless data landscape, business insights will be easier than ever to grab hold of and apply to daily strategy. An individual or group specially trained in data analysis is invaluable to the creation of a successful business, inside and out.