Data has pulled off an amazing feat. Within a short span of time, that one simple word has come to mean so much to so many. It has morphed from the name of a beloved Star Trek character (trekkies rejoice) into a word that permeates society and business to its core. The word’s definition–”values of qualitative or quantitative variables, belonging to a set of items”—is so open-ended it’s easy to see how its application is hazy.
Data-related buzzwords ping pong around our collective consciousness and the meaning, the power and the approach often remain fuzzy to Corporate America. Big data has changed from a byproduct of business to a driver of business. Massive success stories, as seen with Google and Oracle, are blazing the trail to What Can Be.
In these changing times of surplus data, the only way to properly assimilate the wealth of information is to have a methodology for approaching the data. One such process is called CHARGE and it can create structure and serenity in the chaotic world of big data.
CHARGE stands for collect, hold, analyze, refine, generate, and execute. This simple acronym can bring peace to the whirlwind of data that sweeps throughout an organization.
Following a prescribed order of operations will not only calm the nerves of executives, but also create confident, actionable usage of this prolific resource.
It’s necessary to source as much data as possible into your organization. Hopefully this is already occurring. If not, examine your business and determine the appropriate data sources. If a business unit is generating data, you need to be collecting it. From point of sale data, to third party data, to online engagement and marketing-related data, if there is information relating to the business, grab it!
It’s great to collect data but data needs a home! Ensure your organization creates the proper infrastructure to store, clean, and organize the various streams of information. Utilize technology and appropriate resources to construct a custom data warehouse capable of handling the volume and potential inconsistencies of data. The analysis and eventual action items are only as accurate as the foundational data.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. You’ll need to dig into the data and look for patterns, seasonal trends, promotion impact, and marketing successes, making sure to take the time to understand the information and what it means. Ensure thorough due diligence and resources are applied to analyzing the state of affairs.
This is a step that is often overlooked, but take the extra time to refine the analysis. Disseminate results, poke holes, and diagnose every angle. The more diligence used in refining the analysis, the greater your confidence in its outcomes and the strength of the resulting action plan.
With volumes of clean data and a thorough, refined analysis, create a plan of action. Examples of such plans are: identifying and alleviating operational inefficiencies, optimizing media budget and campaign strategy, or determining appropriate staffing inside various business units. The open ended nature of CHARGE allows for almost any project, regardless of the scope, to be systematically tackled. Generate this plan with confidence and authority. Feel good about any action items and use the findings to defend any required next steps.
Move forward with the plan. Initiate the project and set milestones to make steady, measured progress. By following a defined order of operations your plan can move forward with assurance and corporate buy-in.
By implementing the CHARGE process, data may not feel so daunting. The world of big data changes at such a frequency that the only way to account for the volatility is through process. A plan of action for creating a plan of action. Nothing makes an organization more nimble than a thorough understanding of the business environment in which it operates. Knowledge is power and raw data is the key to creating the knowledge base for successful business navigation.
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[This post originally appeared on Asking Smarter Questions and is republished with permission.]