We have all heard of “putting data at the heart” and how “everything we do is led by data”, but for those who aren’t quite there yet, the question to ask yourself is, “how do we make it happen?”

As companies gain more access to data and become hungry to unlock its potential, they need to start planning what they’re going to do with it all.

At iProspect, we believe that the first step to working this out is to sit down as a team and answer the following questions:

  • What data do we currently have?
  • How do we use it now?
  • How can we better use the data we have now?
  • What extra data do we need to make better decisions?
  • Where are the gaps?
  • Where do we want to be by 2020?

Part of answering these questions is to firstly identify the current and future stakeholders of your data, and what they need in order to make truly data-driven decisions. A simple stakeholder mapping exercise will show you exactly what the needs are.

This process has proved invaluable for us, including one recent occasion while working with our client, Specsavers. By answering these questions, we were able to see what each individual stakeholder needed and where data could help them feel empowered to make the right decisions.

Once you know what your stakeholders want, the next exercise in planning is to look at the current journey someone takes with your brand.

There are plenty of models out there, but two of our favourites are the tried-and-tested “Awareness, Engagement, Consideration, Conversion and Retention” model and the “See, Think, Do, Care” model. By laying out what the journey looks like and how a customer engages with your brand at each stage, you can then identify what data you already have – and where the gaps are.

With all this done you can then go away and create a 12, 18 or 24-month plan that will lay out how you will obtain and use the data that you need, and more importantly, how you are ensuring that data is providing value and enabling decisions.

iProspect breaks down its data plans into five categories:

1.     Reporting

This covers the reports you need to drive decisions. It also looks into the data visualisation tools needed to allow for quick access to insights and faster decision making.

2.     Technical

Are there any tools you need to look for? Do you have anything launching that you need to ensure is captured? These are the types of questions covered off in the technical section.

3.     Insights

The insights section looks into projects that require a deep dive into the data to see if there is anything that we might not know yet. Segmentation, understanding non-converters and retention analysis are examples of insight projects.

4.     Planning

Planning addresses how we fill the gaps we’ve identified, and how we would recommend the gaps are singled out and addressed. It can also cover Data Management Platforms and Single Customer View planning.

5.     Education

This is the most important section. How do we educate stakeholder teams and empower them to make decisions? Creating training programs and getting them into reports themselves helps to drive further adoption.

As data becomes more and more available, and as we understand consumers at an increasingly personal level, data planning emerges as a crucial requirement for success.

Data empowers teams to make effective business decisions, but to achieve everything you want to achieve with data, you need a plan to go with it.

If like most businesses you create 2, 5 or 10 year plans, think about this: data is only going to grow in importance. A 12, 16 or 18 month data plan will help you ensure you’re ready for 2020 and beyond.

Thomas Galluzzo

Thomas is the Director of Analytics at iProspect Australia. Thomas’s role is to work with clients on improving their analytics capabilities and advise them on the performance of their website and paid media.