, by  Tom Simnett

Are you using the BIG DATA available to your Business?

How you can use the data you have to help your business grow.

Did you read our previous Big Data blog that focused very on marketing data available to you and how to exploit it?

As a follow up to that, we thought we'd show you a couple of examples of how you can capture and use data within your business, to improve productivity.

Some of this may seem a little 'Big Brother-ish', but we’re simply showing examples of what could be done, rather than what should be done.

Let’s have a look at a few of the options:

1. Do you track your staff productivity?

Your IT network recognises when someone logs on and off – and what they’re doing between. This data could be used to show what productivity you’re getting out of each member of staff; a great resource to have, especially at appraisal time!

You’d need a different solution to deal with managers, since they spend time moving between your office and client sites. But, for the likes order processors, trade counter staff and admin staff, this little resource can prove very useful for HR managers.

2. How about the door security system?

Although this is perceived as being right-up-there in the realms of 'Big Brother Surveillance', keeping a track of your staff member's movements has many benefits to aiding productivity.

For example, if a safety incident occurs (such as a fire or evacuation), a list of building occupants can be automatically printed to alert management as to who is in the building and who isn't. This saves reliance on the outdated and often inaccurate 'in/out' board.

Granted, it doesn’t know how long staff members take to get a coffee, nip to the loo and have a chat with their colleagues before actually starting work, but at least you know if they are in the office or not.

If staff have a security card but don’t need to swipe in or scan their hand, intelligent sensors placed on the door could tell you when they enter and exit your building.

How do you organise your evidence?

Most companies have a whole pile of testimonials and case studies that show how good they are at delivering on their clients’ needs.

What would you say if we said you could display them based on who is looking at your website? Perhaps you'd like to attach the best (and most appropriate) ones to your proposal quickly?

  1. Tags are the easiest way to label testimonials and case studies, but how do you then display the right ones?
  2. Do you use web analytics software and can you get a data feed from there directly on your website?
  3. Can you filter and then PDF the appropriate evidence to send to your clients?
  4. Can your website visitors ask for specific evidence if you know nothing about them at that time?

Production planning. Do you sell, then build, or build then sell?

  1. Online sales data can be used to plan future production requirements. Large supermarkets have been using EPOS data and 'Just-in-Time' ordering for years. This helps them to help maximise sales and reduce the space they use storing slow moving stock. Of course, this is based on a 'produce then sell' model, but it could be the other way around.

  2. You know what is needed to produce a unit of whatever you sell. You know how long it should take to make a unit. You also know what wastage occurs for every 100x units. If you have a lead time of X days or weeks, you can adjust both your staffing levels to have just enough skill in that day/week to produce what has been sold.

  3. If your raw material lead times are shorter than your production times, 'Just-in-Time' ordering could also minimise the stock you need to hold. This in turn reduces the warehousing space required for your business, increasesing profitability.

Is your data in the right place?

Mobile staff often create information and carry data that would be useful to other staff members, if only it was accessible. Salespeople are the biggest culprit for this. They carry their data around on their laptops and seldom (if ever) back up the data that's stored on them. And heaven forbid that the laptop gets stolen or the hard drive corrupts! Years worth of work and valuable contacts GONE in the blink of an eye.

Could a mobile app put data where it’s needed?

  • Details of a new house for sale
  • Dimensions for a new kitchen or double glazing order
  • Automatically creating a new user account within a new business, adding their Office 365 license and hosted server access permissions?

These are just a few ideas but let us know if you can think of any more that might help your business.