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The availability of data is changing the business world in exciting and dramatic ways. When you know where your best customers are, you can market your products and services more efficiently. When you have the information you need about demand, you can schedule purchases and employee hours more carefully. And when you know where your profit margins are generated, you can make smarter short- and long-term decisions.

For all of these reasons, we are huge proponents of gathering and disseminating information at every level of an organization. However, there is one problem business owners and executives need to be aware of: not all data is useful or impactful.

What does this mean in the real world? Here are a few things you notice when you work with technology the way we do…

Snapshots Aren’t Always Reliable

Sometimes, decision-makers are so excited to use the data that we are giving them they rely on short-term reports to make long-term predictions. That can be dangerous.

The more focused your business data is, the more important it becomes to put it in the right context. Tracking hour-by-hour fluctuations in sales or customer service requests, as examples, usually isn’t that instructive. But when you look at the way trends develop over months and years, you can see where a business or industry is headed.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that what you’re seeing for a single moment in time will last indefinitely.

Some Correlations Are Meaningless

This is a well-known issue in statistics, medicine, and economics. When you have enough information it can seem as if several different variables are connected, when in fact they are the product of a coincidence. In other words, you can mistake white noise for real insight.

For an obvious example, you could look at the way some people make stock market predictions based on what’s happening in a popular sports league. That doesn’t make any sense regardless of how the math holds up. Just because outcomes have aligned in a certain way historically doesn’t mean they have any bearing on one another going forward.

Data is valuable, but only if it’s backed by common sense and good business fundamentals.

Data Measures Information, Not Values

There is a famous story about an airline executive who determined that his company could save tens of thousands of dollars by giving each passenger a few peanuts less than they were used to receiving. This person was then tasked with cutting millions more from the budget. As a consequence, most of us recognize that flying isn’t nearly as fun or relaxing as it used to be.

There are a lot of reasons for that, of course, but the bigger point remains the same. Having data to back up a decision doesn’t necessarily make it the right call. You also have to consider your own values and priorities. For instance, the data might tell you that cutting customer service hours reduces returns. That could be true, but it might also result in unhappy customers who can’t reach your business and won’t buy from you again in the future.

Use data to measure results. Use your vision for the future to make decisions about the directions in which your company is headed.

Are You Getting the Right Insights From Your Current IT Provider?

Data isn’t always actionable, but better insights into the ways technology can improve your business are priceless. At Fantastic IT, we make sure our clients aren’t just getting great tech support, but also the advice they need to make smart decisions on spending, staffing, and more.

If you aren’t getting that kind of service from your current managed services provider, it might be time to explore other options. Contact us today to see how we can help!

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