Making better use of your data to drive revenue

When the world gets turned upside down overnight, it can be difficult to know how your business should respond. Do you sit tight and wait for it all to blow over? Do you discount aggressively to maintain sales? How long can you survive if things get worse?

Without robust data, businesses are flying blind in these situations, and that’s not a good place to be. McKinsey research found that long-term strategic adjustments are required for sustainable success in an evolving business environment.

And while instinct may have done you well in the past, it’s time to make those long-term strategic adjustments through the lens of robust data looking at the business as a whole, not in distinct siloes.

Many SMEs have been in survival mode since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the UK in March 2020, and rapid evolution is now essential for those businesses if they wish to succeed in the new climate. Yet, there is a light in this tunnel: research shows that the SMEs that invest in innovation and manage to adapt quickly will begin to thrive again more quickly than competitors.

Understanding the current market can help you seize opportunities…

Establishing a data-driven culture, and acquiring the right tools and talent to help you analyse data, helps to paint a picture of the market as it stands. More importantly, these tools help SMEs to understand their own position, where operational efficiencies could be found, and how customer behaviour is changing – an invaluable tool when times are tough.

For example, some businesses have seen unexpected upturns in specific products and services because of the change in people’s working lives and their new pastimes. Coffee shops in our cities are struggling while home coffee makers have seen big increases in direct consumer demand. The DIY market has boomed as people stay at home; garden projects like a new shed or finally getting around to putting down that decking have tested the UK supply chain and resulted in consumers taking a more direct route to manufacturers.

The SMEs that are slower to see the upside and adapt operations to these changes might be feeling restrained by legacy processes, such as their existing sales order processing data capture and links to their marketing campaigns.

…and data is essential to that market knowledge

To maintain momentum and drive revenue, it can help to embed better data capture processes, and encourage greater use of that data. The speed in which SMEs can adapt will be affected by their existing business processes in this area.

Consider the customer data you already have on record – it could be spread across online databases, spreadsheets and paper files if you don’t already have a CRM system. When a customer makes an order via telephone or online, do you capture their email address and phone number? How easy is it to change these details?

Take it to the next step: If you’re capturing these details, what do you do with them? Can you quickly set-up a series of intelligent email campaigns based on stored data about previous purchases and emerging buying patterns?

Making simple changes to the digital process for sales order entry, and then making better use of that data in marketing campaigns, can help drive revenue – all you need is the right levels of platform integration and customisation of business processes. Platforms such as Sage200 and SAP Business One can be used to capture data from anywhere in the business and bring it together to help generate insights on customer behaviours.

Embed a data-driven culture to drive business growth

“In these uncharted waters, where the tides continue to shift, it’s not surprising that analytics, widely recognized for its problem-solving and predictive prowess, has become an essential navigational tool,” writes McKinsey. “Analytics supports numerous urgent tasks facing businesses today: forecasting demand, identifying potential supply-chain disruptions, targeting support services to at-risk workers, and determining the effectiveness of crisis intervention strategies, to name a few.”

Data is nothing without a business culture that supports it, and SMEs need to not only invest in the tools but also make data a core part of employee workflows and mindsets. Data must be made available across teams – get it out of silos and into analytics tools – and it must be treated as a product with real ROI. With this approach to data, businesses can be much more agile and ready to make the most of the market, whatever its state.

Make the most of our free resilience audit, offered to UK businesses wanting a snapshot of how they stand right now. Sign up and receive a personalised report by completing our self-assessment audit here.

Functional silos arent as rigid as they appear, and your organisation is more agile than you think. Youre sitting on a goldmine of data; its time to bring it all together and use it to drive your business forward.

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