6 Types of Data to Improve EfficiencyTypes of data that should be utilised to increase efficiency

The future of efficiency is in data analytics. Once reserved for large companies—who would purchase information on their customer demographic—data is now readily available for businesses of all sizes.

Any business with a social media presence, a website, or even warehouse management software has access to a world of insights ready to help improve business efficiency.

According to the 2018 Big Data Analytics Market Study by Dresner Advisor Services, big data adoption grew from 17% in 2015 to 59% in 2018. That is a staggering 42% in just three years.

This growth is most likely linked to the increased accessibility of data. In fact, data has become so readily available that the EU implemented a new law in 2018 to give individuals more control over their personal data and prevent misuse. You will, of course, know it as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

All things considered, there are still many useful and legal ways SMEs can collect data to improve efficiency. In this article, we will be looking at the top six types of data you could be utilising to boost employee productivity and improve overall business results.

Sales performance

First up is the most simple and obvious type of data that your business can utilise: sales figures. By measuring your performance and logging it within sales management software, you can track when your business gets the most traffic.

This information allows you to predict future peaks and be better prepared for them. Tracking sales and rewarding your teams for strong efforts also motivates them to succeed, improving their productivity.

Customer journey

If you don’t use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, it may be time to consider the investment. Allowing you to track every step in your customer’s journey—including every time they show a glimmer of interest in your business—CRM systems give you an all access pass to providing better customer service.

Some platforms allow you to measure the success of your marketing campaigns, so you know who clicked on a link in your email and which products they were interested in. If they don’t make a purchase, you can deliver additional marketing efforts with a customised approach.

When you have collected enough data on your customer’s journey with your business, you will get a clear enough picture to start anticipating the next steps of your future customers. This is priceless data for offering first-class customer service and improving the overall efficiency of your business.

Employee absences

Calculating the Bradford Score for your staff gives you an overall idea of the effect an employee’s absence had on the day-to-day business. It is calculated by multiplying the number of separate absences by itself, then multiplying that by the total amount of days of absence.

Many organisations have seen success with using the Bradford Factor in their HR department, and report a big motivational effect connected with showing employees their Bradford Scores.

The effect this has on the efficiency of your business is obvious. Fewer staff absences mean a more productive workforce, and less time spent trying to allocate cover or doing additional tasks.

Workflow management

Decreasing absences is not the only way you can boost productivity among your workforce. If it is applicable for your business, it may also be a good idea to implement a project management platform.

The idea of a project management platform is it allows you to plan, monitor, organise and evaluate projects with the aim of improving efficiency. Managing the workflow of your teams could lead to some valuable insights, such as how much time certain tasks take, and where there is room for improvement.

Warehouse operation

For businesses who depend on an efficient warehouse operation, using a smart warehouse management system (WMS) could mean being ready for anything the future brings. Many modern WMS packages are now driven by data, and help to coordinate people, processes, and machines to enhance efficiency.

In addition, some software packages enable the collection of operational data and offer easy access to insights to boost productivity. This means your WMS software could allow you to prevent bottlenecks before they occur and even make smart decisions based on real-time data.

Worker movements

By tracking the movements of your warehouse workers, you can identify if you could have a more efficient warehouse layout. Items that are regularly purchased together could be brought closer to each other in the warehouse, reducing the travel times for your pickers. This, in turn, could give your business a huge lift in productivity.

Some warehouses do this by monitoring the locations each picker scans and at what time. However, Amazon has a new concept in the works.

According to GeekWire.com, Amazon won a pair of patents for wireless wristbands that track warehouse workers in January 2018. While the news was initially met with a degree of controversy, Amazon clarified in a statement: “every day at companies around the world, employees use handheld scanners to check inventory and fulfill orders. This idea, if implemented in the future, would improve the process for our fulfillment associates. By moving equipment to associates’ wrists, we could free up their hands from scanners and their eyes from computer screens”.

Whether you opt for analysing data on your sales, customers, employees, or warehouse operations—or even all of them—the truth is that data can play a big part in improving efficiency in SMEs.

In fact, data and analytics guru Bernard Marr has said that smaller businesses can get more out of big data than larger companies. This is because SMEs can usually act quicker on insights driven by data, whereas a larger company is more likely to need approval for such decisions.

If you are new to the data analytics game, we would recommend firstly utilising the data you already have at hand. You would be surprised how many companies leave valuable insights untouched in their software platforms. As a first step, check all your software—sales management, customer relationship management, shift scheduler, project management, and warehouse management—for useful data. Once you get the hang of it, you can branch out into new ways of collecting and analysing data to improve efficiency across your business.

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