As it appeared in the Daily Nation on October 23rd 2018
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

Companies gather all sorts of data knowingly and unknowingly. Most have data that is financial in nature; they know their revenues per location and even per customer and the have other data relating to their financial performance. Those in retail know how many customers are visiting their shops every day and even every hour and why they are visiting. Other companies have data relating to the usage of their products and services and the variation in usage around the year. Many others are aware about web traffic. Companies are also collecting data relating to the demographics of their customers as well as the satisfaction and loyalty levels. In addition, companies have access to data relating to their staff, partners and even suppliers. The big question is “are companies just gathering data or are they analysing it and using it to make better decisions?”

It is not enough to gather big quantities of data; companies need to be intentional about collecting the right data, analysing it and using the results to make better decisions. Every time I conduct a research may it be in employee engagement or customer experience, I am amazed by how much information can be collected using even very simple methods. There is also so much useful information readily available in organizations but that is not being utilized. Why make decisions based on intuition when we can make use of data at our disposal? Once data has been well analysed, it becomes an important source of insights that can inform a wide range of decisions. Since decision-making is very crucial in organizations, business owners and business leaders need to pay more attention to the use of data in decision-making. Data can be used to help businesses improve their overall performance.

Today, data analytics and data-driven decision-making has made great inroads in the world of business. Smart companies world over are using data to make better decisions. They use data in product development, in supply chain management, in staff scheduling, in expansion decisions and in just about any other area of business. Unfortunately, the use of data in decision-making has not penetrated ever sector and every business. In particular, customer data, which is very useful in in helping organizations understand the nature of their customers is not being fully utilized. A recent survey by Forbes Insight found that only 27% of business decision makers consider their company able to turn their customer data into useful information and act on it. In Kenya, this percentage could be much lower as most customer data is ignored or underutilized.

Use of data to make decisions is not only for the big global companies, local companies as well as medium and small enterprises need to make better use of data. By making decisions that are backed up with verifiable quality data, companies can start to see an improvement in their financial and operational performance as well as customer retention. What data is accessible to your company? Are you using the data to make better decisions? What additional data do you need to collect to make better decisions? Do not miss the opportunity to use data to make better decisions!

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy