You can look at your data many different ways and it will help your business to look at that data in as many different ways as possible and not just one. We will cover some of the basics here and hopefully it will get your mind thinking about what data you currently have and how you can look at it. By looking at your data in different ways or different perspectives you can obtain different business values.
You can group your data. What I mean by grouping is when you have rows and rows of data and you want to bring that data together then grouping logical can help you. Take for instance you have eight to ten sales reps making calls to physicians daily trying to sell them their pharmaceutical drugs. You can group all that data by day for a giving week to show what days the sales people are making the most successful sales calls.
Looking at your data granular is the processing of driving further down into the details of the data. Let’s take the above example of showing successful sales people calls for a giving week. Well we know that Bob on the sales team has be crushing it since he joined, but looking at the data for daily sales calls he and the other sells team members are placing about the same amount of calls Monday through Friday. Let’s get a little more granular and drill down into each of the days calls and see what time he is making his calls. Now the data is showing us that Bob is making all his calls either early in the morning or late afternoon and all the other sales people are consistently calling in between Bob’s hours. Deriving this types of answers and drilling into the data will give you more answers that will help you guide others in the business to be better.
One of the most important ways to look at your data is seeing it in a visual concept or chart. I feel this is one of the most important ways for your data to tell it’s story. One of the biggest reasons visualizing your data is so important is because people are so visual and seeing data in row or tabular form to understand the data can be difficult and sometimes mind numbing. Showing a data story through a picture (chart and/or graph) allows people to understand the meaning quicker. If there was a significant increase or decrease in products sales or customer service calls seeing that spike in a graph will be quick and easy. If there is bad data in your warehouse a picture will definitely tell that story and you will be able to visually see that very quickly. Data visualization tools have greatly changed how businesses have worked with their data as well how businesses have dug deeper into their data gaining valuable insight. So make sure you ask the question “Can this data be visually representing?” and if the answer is yes build out the data visualization and share it with the business.
Can my data be related? I think this question not only does not get asked enough, but it is one of the most powerful ways to look at your data. If your data can be related to other data how strong is that relationship? Even though asking about data relationships is one of the most basic questions in looking at your data it is the most overlooked and the most informative. Let’s look at a simple example: You have a subscription form on your website that allows potential customers to fill out and subscribe to your newsletter. You have two sets of data, one set being the customers information and the other being website. If you look at each data separately you can know who the customer is, from the form information. Looking now at just the website data you can see how an unknown person entered your web site and walked it (What I mean by walking, is what web pages did they visit on your web site). Now let’s join the data (the relationship), Once we do that we know who the person is, how they got to the web site, what they did on the web site, what page they came from before filling out the form, and then what they did after filling out the web form. Now you have a complete picture and you can make some pretty good assumptions about the user. Powerful right. Relating your data will take time and thought but trust me it is definitely worth the work.
These are just some of the ways that you can look at your data and get answers to questions that have been asked and possibly questions that have not been asked yet. Never stopping asking questions and never stop looking at data in different ways.