Ask the expert: Data Analytics for SMEs

It is always our aim to showcase and share the remarkable expertise and industry knowledge of those around us. The bottom line of today’s topic is, SMEs can really use Big Data to their advantage.

As part of this, we caught up with Helen Tanner, Data Specialist at Data³. Helen helps big brands and startups unlock the potential of their data; whether it’s customer focused, employee data or sales data.

We asked Helen for some practical insights and pointers on analytics in an SME context specifically, and why it’s so important. Here, our chat as part of our ‘Ask the Expert’ series.

ADLIB: Let’s start from the beginning. What is your professional background and why have you decided to set up data ³?

Helen Tanner: I started my career as a coder working for The Met Office in 1997, way before data was cool or terms like ‘predictive analytics’ were formed. And yet meteorological organisations were the first homes for supercomputers and could be described as the home of predictive analytics in the form of weather forecasts.

I then worked for 13 years in Marketing Director and senior leadership roles for global financial services companies like AXA and Computershare. As time went on, I saw a growing opportunity for data-driven actionable insights. Insights that could drive our product strategies, our pricing decisions, our sales targeting and generally help businesses to make or save more money. But the challenge was always the same – we lacked the time and resource needed to exploit our data. We were sat on a goldmine of data, but with limited resources to tap into it. That’s why I set up Data3 in 2017.

ADLIB: in your opinion, why is data important?

Helen Tanner: We’ve arrived at a digital age where everything is fuelled by data. Every day our exposure to digital homes, appliances, vehicles and wearable and implantable devices is growing. And all these devises are connected to the net and generating hordes of data. The business world is no different, our interaction with brands is almost entirely digital based – the products we view online, the emails we open, the adverts we watch.

Nearly every interaction leaves a digital trail; a message for businesses about how their customers are interacting with them, what they’re thinking about them and what they may do in the future.

But with all this data comes a big challenge. It’s all very well capturing every metric under the sun, but if it’s not stored correctly, cleansed, analysed and visualised the right way – it’s useless. Worse than useless in some cases, it can even inform the wrong decisions. I wanted to create a simple way for businesses, without huge budgets and data scientist teams, to exploit their data. To tap into their data goldmine and make or save more money for their business.

ADLIB: What challenges do you see businesses up against when they want to run data projects?

Helen Tanner: To win at the data game, you’ve got to start off with the right objectives. You’ve got to ask the right questions, set the right goals, measure success in the right way, think about your users and tell a story with your data.

Many businesses start in the middle and start with the data. They know they want a dashboard. They gather all the data they can find, they load this into the dashboard…and then the dashboard is never used. It may look pretty – but it’s not generating insight or driving change.

A large part of what we do is working with data teams, marketing teams and sales teams to really figure out what their business levers are and how data can better inform their decision-making.

It’s much better to have one or two smart business objectives, take just the right amount of data from various sources, and build a tool that can be measured against really clear KPIs than throw everything at a dashboard. When we work like this, we see our clients make and save money and see real success as a result of their data tools.

ADLIB: Can you share a little bit about how data³ works?

We work with businesses that have one of three problems. They don’t have enough data resources in-house – so we fast-track them. They don’t have the right skills in-house – so we upskill them. They don’t know how to monetise data – we help them to innovate.

Data ³ provides businesses with a data SWAT team. An outsourced band of consultants, analysers, scientists and visualisers that transform data into actionable insight and help businesses to grow. We offer businesses an alternative to hiring full-time members of staff because we can complete projects faster and cheaper than in-house teams

Our typical work includes building data products and tools from scratch, quickly and effectively; Upskilling data teams so they can run sophisticated reports with ease; Supporting existing data projects by sharing our expertise and fast-tracking results; Providing ongoing training and support as a business needs it – so they don’t need to worry and Defining data exploration and predictive analytics projects enabling a business to innovate.

We encourage any business – no matter how big or small, old or new – to exploit the value of their data. To step away from basic reporting in trusty MS Excel and discover the significant business benefits of tapping into their data goldmine.

Thank you for sharing, Helen!

Written by

Head of Data

Insight & Analytics

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Alex Cosgrove