5 Keys To Data Success: Collection

Mik Data Science February 29, 2016

Your business has a lot going on. Make sure you measure what matters.
Your business has a lot going on. Make sure you measure what matters.

Big data insight starts at the source.

We’ve all heard it: staying competitive requires hard data to support better business decisions. But is it really as easy as simply throwing a few buzzwords at a board meeting and filing spreadsheets in a drawer? In our new series “5 Keys to Data Success” we will take 5 minutes to give you 5 questions to ask yourself when navigating the benefit (and hype) of data. As the first article in the series, we’ll start where everyone should: right at the source.

Big data conjures images of a firehose of numbers and metrics — the more the better! But proper data collection is critical to data success and can help you avoid costly, meaningless analysis down the line. Here’s our 5 questions to be sure you ask about your data collection strategy:

1. What data am I already collecting?

Whether it’s sales figures or inventory tallies,if you are in business you are already collecting data. While the existing data may not address your goals, taking a first look at what you have can save money and avoid integrating a new work flow.

2. What budget do I have for data collection?

At Avrio Analytics we have a saying: there’s no such thing as free data. Whether it’s paying for collection, storage, analysis or all of the above, there’s a very real cost associated with collecting data. Be sure address the budget up front.

3. Do I understand and trust my data sources?

Nothing nefarious. Simply, is the data actually measuring what you think it’s measuring? Knowing the context and limitation of the data source will help in removing assumptions and errors from its interpretation.

4. Am I capturing enough breadth in my data?

Rarely does just one or two variables influence success. Are you considering all the variables? Broader sets of data (e.g. user activity along with profiles) are often just as crucial as narrow, deep sets (e.g. user click patterns). Get the big picture.

5. Does my experience resonate with the data?

Domain expertise is one of the most powerful data tools at your disposal. Making sure you reasonably believe the data is connected to your goals not only limits collection costs, but leads to analysis you can use and understand.

These are just a few of the key questions you should be asking. Keeping these 5 in mind should get you asking more — and result in real data success.