How to Use Data Science to Get Ahead in Business

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jun 08, 2020
Image Credit: GarryKillian/Shutterstock

If you know how to use it, big data could be the key to even a small business's success.

  • Data science is the use of scientific is the use of algorithms, scientific methods, processes and systems to extract knowledge from data.
  • Data is at the helm of the decision-making process in a company. Having unstructured data can result in poor decisions.
  • Data science methodologies assist an organization in determining the best product to place in the market and how to handle competition.

Big data for business offers an evolution of management and marketing tools as a reflection of technological advancements. It is also a consequence of our times when just looking at a small set of historical results no longer gives you a competitive advantage. We need to think dynamically.

A widely found misconception is that big data is only suitable for specific activity sectors or best used by large organizations. Small and midsize business owners are usually intimidated by data science, although their businesses also generate enough information to get actionable insights. Through education and real-life examples, this unjustified fear can be eluded.

What is data science in business?

Data science in business refers to taking an analytical approach in resolving business challenges and decision-making by scrutinizing data based on numbers, statistics and facts. It is use scientific methods, algorithms, processes and systems to extract knowledge from data, and use the results to make strategic decisions.

A business is able to create a predictive model through data science to simulate a variety of possibilities, through the use of analytic tools to gain insights on data. To achieve this, a company records performance metrics and analyses them over time, making decisions based on recurring trends.

The areas where data science can have a significant impact on business include planning, automating processes, performing market research and scouting talent.

Business planning

When you make a strategic business move, you need to have proper reasoning and motivation behind your actions. Also, to seize opportunities, you can't afford to wait months for regular business evaluations. Data science gives business owners a way to make decisions while hedging risks. 

Tools for success

By combining internal and external data, it is possible to validate decisions. Even if your company is too small to create a relevant inflow of data, you can use freely available databases with information from the same industry or from governmental institutions. Just having data is not enough; it needs to be in an easy-to-use format, like a dashboard.

Use the reports you generate to set new performance metrics. Give people access to data and reports, and use gamification techniques to motivate them to reach their goals.

Process automation

Most companies regularly waste their employees' time on repetitive tasks and could benefit from simplification by automation. A mixed team of project managers and data scientists could identify the parts that should be performed by machines instead of humans.

The benefits of this approach could be seen in diverse areas, from document processing to decision-making. For example, AI-powered text processing can handle some of the duties of an assistant manager and summarize, sort, classify, and retrieve documents and conversations. Other deep-learning algorithms can be trained to match the skills of expert evaluators. These steps don't mean replacing staff with computers, just giving people back some time to use more creatively.

Marketing research

Big data and marketing research are a match made in statistical heaven. The combination can uncover patterns about client profiles, their preferences, the efficiency of advertising methods and even projected ROI for each marketing channel.

Client segmentation

Mass products are no longer a viable model. Personalization is in demand, and the only reasonable way to know what people want is to use lots of data. There are free tools like Google Analytics that offer in-depth insights of your customers and create profiles. By looking carefully at the data, you can identify new niches to target.

Better advertising

Before big data, there were focus groups and surveys, which were highly biased because they could only include a few participants. Now, every commercial, webpage or social media advertising post can be tested for relevance with thousands of users. A/B testing shows what people like and what makes them engage with the company.

Talent scouting

The same logic that goes into finding your ideal client applies to hiring excellent staff. First, you need to understand what motivates and engages your perfect worker. This is similar to understanding your client's motivations. Next, the machine-learning algorithm can be trained to identify success factors for people in similar positions. Once these are distilled, the real search work will begin.

Modern tools can merge online profiles from different platforms, not just the professional ones like LinkedIn. An HR staff member evaluates the potential candidate from a much broader perspective, including their ability to work in a team, personality and stress resistance. At the very least, the preliminary stages of this process will soon be automated. Weeks of sorting through resumes will turn into just a few hours of interviews with qualified, short-listed candidates.

Data has become a currency, a way of doing business, and the foundation for sound decision-making. Yet, data by itself is only a tool, a solution. To make data speak its truth, a management team needs to ask the right questions. The same set of numbers can give answers to very different problems.

Benefits of big data for small businesses

It empowers managers in decision-making.

Data science helps managers and staff better their analytical abilities thereby improving their decision-making skills. Managers can set new goals through measuring, recording and tracking performance metrics.

Companies can mtaintain a competitive edge.

Data science allows companies to come up with market trends. These allow a company to have a competitive advantage in the market over its competitor. The trends are able to identify the products that the market is currently consuming and what is not selling. The company can then invest more in the products that are doing much better.

It facilitates the recruitment of skilled talent.

The human resource department analyses the data of various candidates through data science to pick the right candidate. This is beneficial to the company as less time and resources are wasted in finding the right candidates. Data science provides comprehensive profiles that make it easier to pick the right candidate.

It validates critical decisions.

Data science helps you to test business decisions by introducing various variables factors to check scalability and flexibility. Only favorable changes are introduced into the organization structure and function.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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