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Why Is Data a Valuable Resource for Your Business?

How do you build an effective data resource and make it work for you? In this article, I'll look at why data is so important to any organization and how to make the most of your data resources.

Bad decisions are almost always based on incorrect or incomplete facts. Good decisions keep your organization competitive. In a nutshell, that’s why data is such an important business resource.

Ever since the dawn of civilization, our ancestors have known the value of information. In Mesopotamia, stone tablets dating back to 7000 BCE recorded primitive accounting data in pictograph form. These tablets predated the invention of conventional writing by several thousand years. This exciting find proved to be details of trading and expenditure and crop records. Even in those days, facts were essential to decision-making.

In today's digital age, we're floating on a sea of recorded data. But are we using it effectively? Mega-organizations like Google and Amazon treat data as their most valuable resource. If you want your company to grow and be effective, you need to learn from them.

Access to data shouldn't be the prerogative of the IT department – data should be directly available to anyone who needs to make decisions. Data democratization is the first important step towards using your data effectively. You need to empower your decision-makers to retrieve and analyze data whenever they need it.

Since SQL (Structured Query Language) is used by most analysis tools to retrieve data, it's a must-have skill for anyone who needs meaningful information.'s SQL Basics course is a good place to start. This course explains the concepts of relational databases and builds the skills you need to extract and analyze your company's data. With over 100 realistic and interactive exercises, you’ll gain more than knowledge: you’ll also get experience in applying it.

If you want your company to grow and be competitive, you need to make informed decisions. Data is vital to a successful business in many ways:

  • Understanding your business. A successful business knows its customers' needs, keeps on top of market trends, and reacts quickly when operations aren't running smoothly. How does it do this? Mostly by having access to the right information at the right time.
  • Increasing productivity. Every business process from time to time suffers from bottlenecks and friction; every process is prone to errors. Data analysis helps you to identify where the problems are. This allows you to keep your customers and staff happy and keep your prices competitive.
  • Managing r Bad things happen. Banks go broke and companies lose their money, computer systems crash, debtors fail to pay. The right data can help you anticipate and plan for adverse events and offset your risks.
  • Setting, measuring, and evaluating goals. Your business goals shouldn't be based on a guess. They should be based on purposeful And when you've set your goals, you need to be able to have the data resources to see whether they're being met. By keeping informed, you can find and eliminate any problems that are stopping you from meeting your target.
  • Fostering development and i To stay competitive, your business needs to evolve in a changing world. Access to data will allow you to not only come up with good ideas, but also to research the best way to make them work.
  • Preventing fraud and theft. Without good accounting and stock control data, you run the risk of losing all your profits to dishonest staff, suppliers, and customers.
  • Making your money work for you. Top companies never allow their money to be unproductive. Your money should always be used in ways that make more money. Your balance sheet may look healthy – but do you have goods sitting on the shelves for long periods that may never be sold? Do you have money tied up in dubious debts? Or sitting in a bank account that doesn't earn interest? With the right data, you can always be aware of where your money is and where it could be used to increase your profits.

As you can see, data should be your company's most valuable asset. But what sort of data should you be storing? Where can you get it? And how can you make sure it's easily available when you need it? In the next sections, I'll show you how to find answers to these questions.

Data a Valuable Resource for Your Business

What Kind of Data Resources Do You Need?

To decide what data you should be storing, you first need to decide what kind of information will be useful to you. A good starting point is to draw up a list of use cases. Use cases are descriptions of each circumstance where data will be useful to your company. A use case should answer the questions:

  • Who will use the data?
  • What data will they use?
  • Why will they use it?
  • When will they need it?

Your list of use cases may look like this:

Marketing ManagerSales by Customer AgeFind out which age groups buy which products to plan targeted advertising campaignsQuarterly
Branch ManagerSlow-selling productsOffer discounts on these itemsMonthly
Production ManagerComparison of actual production against targets by departmentIdentify bottlenecks in productionMonthly

Once you know how you want to use the data, it will be easy for you to plan what data resources you need. Typically, companies will need to store information in the areas detailed below.

Customer Data

Most companies already store some information about their customers: name, billing address, delivery address, etc.. But often it's not enough to be able to answer questions that could help you manage your business better. Your customer data should help you to understand:

  • What kind of customers do you have?
  • What are different kinds of customers buying?
  • What are their needs?
  • Where are they?
  • What incentives could you offer to make them buy more?
  • Are they happy? How can you make them happier?
  • Where can you find similar people to target as potential customers?

Sales Data

Sales data, if used properly, is invaluable for planning future growth and monitoring current performance. You should be able to compare current data to historical data to understand trends and assess progress by comparing actual sales to sales targets.

Operational Data

Your data should be able to tell you:

  • If your products are cost
  • Which areas are operating efficiently and which are not.
  • If your stock levels are adequate.
  • Which departments are most efficient.
  • Where costs are too high.

This allows you to make timely changes to keep things running smoothly.

Human Resources Data

Your company can't operate without the right staff. Data will help you answer questions like:

  • Can you keep the staff you need?
  • Do you need more staff? Or less staff?
  • Are staff performing as they should?
  • Do you have an adequate skills base?
  • Do staff need more training?

Accounting Data

Everyone has to keep accounts for tax purposes. But your accounts should be planned in such a way that they provide important information for the business. They should tell you whether your money's being used effectively, where your expenses are too high, what areas of the business are profitable and much more.

Data a Valuable Resource for Your Business

Building Effective Data Resources

To be effective, your data resource needs to be:

  • Planned around the company's needs.
  • Accurate.
  • Up to date.
  • Easily accessible.
  • Available to the right people.

Do you actually know what data you have available? You may have all the right data, but it may be in many different places. Some may be in a central database; some may be in various software applications on different computers. How much valuable data is lying around in spreadsheets on staff members' laptops? How much exists only in the heads of your experienced employees? And how much is on paper stored in filing cabinets?

Let's look at the stages involved in making sure your company has the right data available to the right people at the right time.

Data Collection

Data has to come from somewhere; planning your collection methods goes a long way towards making sure your data is comprehensive and accurate. There are many ways of collecting data:

  • Manual forms. Examples include account application forms and student registration forms. If you want them filled in accurately, you must:
    • Only ask for relevant data, otherwise people will get bored and careless.
    • Allow enough space for data to be filled in comfortably.
    • Have clear instructions.
  • Online Forms. These should follow the same rules as manual forms, but they should also:
    • Make use of features such as drop-down lists and checkboxes. This helps to prevent garbage data (i.e. data that is inaccurate or unusable).
    • Include proper validation to make sure the data is reasonable.
  • These should follow the rules for online forms. However, since they are voluntary, you need to design them carefully. Make sure they don't waste anyone's time and that they let people feel good about providing the data.
  • Existing manual documents. If you have valuable data in manual records, consider putting that data into your central database. At the very least, index it in your database so people know exactly where to find the information they need.
  • Spreadsheet d If your staff have useful information on their laptops, consider uploading it into a database. Your database software may have a facility for uploading data from a spreadsheet into a table. If not, it's usually possible to save the spreadsheet as a CSV file, which can be easily imported by your database management system.
  • Data from external sources. It's often possible to upload data provided online or by email into your database. This may include:
    • Bank s
    • Suppliers’ price lists.
    • Google Analytics data.
    • RSS feeds.
  • IoT data. The Internet of Things (IoT) includes any device that’s connected to the Internet or a computer system. An example may be an entry access system, which records in real time who entered and left a security area.

Data Integrity

To be useful, your data needs to be up to date, accurate, and free from duplications. It's no good analyzing how many customers you have in each area if many of them are actually the same customer under a misspelled name.

SQL is a great tool for cleaning up your data. It allows you to analyze and repair your data and remove duplicates. Obviously, you need data manipulation skills in SQL to be able to do this.'s How to Insert, Update, and Delete Data in SQL course is perfect for training your staff in that area.

Data Storage

If you need information quickly, you shouldn't have to wait while an IT specialist gathers the data from many different sources. To be really useful, your data needs to be in a central location commonly known as a data warehouse. The data warehouse should be easily accessible to everyone who needs the data.

Relational databases, also known as SQL databases, are the ideal choice for storing data needed for analysis. This is because:

  • They are readily accessible.
  • They can be designed and tuned for top performance.
  • Non-technical staff can easily be trained to use them effectively.

You may still need data to be stored elsewhere in other formats, but it should be regularly loaded into the data warehouse.

Data Analysis

To effectively analyze and visualize your data, it's worth investing in one or more of the really good tools on the market. With these, you can extract and aggregate your data to turn it into meaningful information. You can also present it in the form of graphs, charts, and various pictograms so that it can be easily understood and shared. Here are a few of the top data analysis tools:

  • I'm putting this first on the list because most of the other tools use it. You need to learn SQL as your first step in mastering data analysis skills. SQL can also be used as a stand-alone to extract and aggregate data into meaningful reports.
  • Power BI. This is a powerful data visualization tool designed specifically for Business Intelligence. It's suitable for non-technical staff and allows users to combine, aggregate, and share data. It includes data modelling and visualization
  • This is statistical analysis software developed by IBM. Featuring many advanced statistical analysis methods, it allows data to be presented in reports, charts, and graphs.
  • This statistical analysis software is widely used by researchers. Data can be analyzed and presented in many different forms.
  • Python. Python is a high-level, simple-to-learn programming language. Many data analysis tools allow you to use Python to carry out customized data transformation and mathematical tasks. If you want to learn the most popular programming language in the world, choose

If you'd like more information about these and other data analysis tools, I recommend this article.

Data a Valuable Resource for Your Business

Making the Best Use of Your Data

To be effective, your data resources should be carefully planned, centrally stored, and available to all decision-makers.

Throughout the entire process, SQL is an invaluable tool. It can be used for:

  • Gathering data from many sources into a data warehouse.
  • Loading spreadsheet data saved in CSV format into a relational database.
  • Cleaning and correcting data.
  • Extracting and analyzing information.
  • Accessing data to use in data analysis and visualization tools.

In my opinion, almost any organization can benefit by building strong SQL skills. This article discusses how to go about setting a corporate strategy to train staff on how to use SQL databases. Business owners may find this blog post helpful.

You can also help your employees upskill by enrolling them in data science bootcamps to provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills to harness the power of data, enhancing their performance, employability, and contribution to the company's success.

If you're interested in setting up a company-wide SQL training program tailored to meet your needs, is happy to help you. Read this case study to find out how to get started. has a wide range of interactive, hands-on courses that can put you ahead of the field in effectively using data in business.

Companies like Amazon, Uber, Google and Meta have proved that good data resources drive successful businesses. It's time to take your business to the next level by making the best possible use of your data.