Opinion piece: I love data. I love accurate data better

Written UCB CEO Darren Park for C&I Retailing. 

“Torture the data, and it will confess to anything”. No, that’s not my saying. It belongs to a Nobel Prize winning economist. It does however reflect what we see every day across our businesses, data being used to create stories. Some stories are based on fact, some are based on data that’s in bad shape.

Everyday, everyone, everywhere is bombarded by data. Who cares, or why should anyone care, about data? To operate a successful retail business or any business, accurate data is a vital piece of the business success equation.

What is Data?

What is data exactly? If you asked different people this question, you would receive multiple answers. For me, data are facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

An example of business data could be the number of 600ml soft drinks sold across Queensland in the past 3 months. There is one correct number that fits this criteria. This fact can be referenced for analysis and can be used for making a business decision.

Why is Data and Its Integrity Important?

Who cares if data is incorrect or if the overall quality is poor? Data quality is referred to as data integrity. Data integrity means that the data is accurate and reliable. We all make business decisions which ultimately contribute to our company’s success. In most companies, there are areas where important business decisions are routinely made based on data. Whether it is the soft drink example above or using data to determine your best sellers or if you are a Trade Partner, where do we have distribution gaps or if you are a retailer, is my pricing correct?

There are three main areas in business, where the use of good and clean data can help us improve;

  • Business Performance Measurement.Consistently measuring business performance against company goals and the competition. Have we met our KPIs? Is this invoice priced correctly? Is my fuel price impacting my shop sales in anyway? These are examples of where we use data to measure our business performance. 
  • Customer and Partner Satisfaction.Essential to a company’s success is the satisfaction of its customers and partners. Whether it be customer or product masterfiles, site visit reports, new product distribution, promotional pricing or correct equipment placement etc) data needs to be routinely captured and analysed to ensure customer expectations are being met. Any potential issues can be brought to light and resolved.
  • Resource Allocation and Use.Having the correct resources (such as coolers, product stands and field team member store coverage) in the correct locations at the correct time working on the correct project is important.

From the above, I hope you can see, data with solid integrity allows decision makers to accurately check on the “pulse” of company’s own performance, its partner’s performance and against the competition too. Having accurate and reliable data to analyse into information for making important, quick or long-term, business decisions, is simply a most crucial tool.

With greater data integrity comes greater credibility and a stronger decision making foundation. Reports become more accurate. Field teams are more informed. Customers respond with greater trust in your business and we all enjoy greater productivity and efficiency.

Hopefully most of you are already investing energy in data integrity. For those that this article may have poked in the ribs, by spending a little now, you reap far greater benefits over time.

The better data a business has, the more successful it is likely to become.

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