12 September 2019

Actionable Insights

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When business leaders are presented with yet another lengthy report or dashboard, “so what?” is often the response.

These views typically include backwards-looking usage metrics that focus on what has happened, rather than providing insight into what the future may bring.

Your business may well be drowning in data, and struggling to connect the dots despite being surrounded by more information than ever before.

Reports and dashboards can inform – but information alone does not provide actionable insights for decision-making.

Back in 2016, Forrester reported that 74% of businesses said they wanted their decisions be data-driven, but only 29% are successful at connecting analytics to action.

Access to more data and information is not the answer to the “so what?” question.

Data and information provide the foundations, but creating real value involves analysis to apply knowledge and draw conclusions which can identify actionable insights.

Improving data literacy – the ability to read, work with, analyse and argue with data – is crucial for small businesses to make informed decisions, identify trends and optimise operations. 


Here are some steps that you can take to improve your data literacy. It will take commitment, the willingness to learn, and a supportive environment that values data-driven decision-making. Remember that your time is limited, so prioritise learning the basics – over time your data literacy will improve! 

Start learning

Take some time to learn about basic data concepts, analytics tools, and data interpretation. Online blogs, courses and YouTube videos can be valuable low-cost resources for data-related topics, as are online communities, forums or social media groups related to data analysis where you can ask questions and learn from others.

Gather your tools

There are lots of free or low-cost tools available online for data analysis, like Google Analytics for website data and survey tools for gathering customer feedback. Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are great for data manipulation using formulas, pivot tables or creating basic data visualisations.

Focus your efforts

Concentrate on areas that directly impact your business; an e-commerce business might focus on understanding customer data and sales trends.

Build up your confidence

Start with simple tasks and choose small data projects that align with your business goals, to build your skills and confidence for more complex work.

Reflect & iterate

Regularly review your data analysis and reflect on the insights gained. Use this information to refine your strategies and make informed decisions.

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