7 Keys to Making Data Actionable

Turning useless data into something actionable

New technologies help companies stockpile potentially valuable data, but what we often get in return for our efforts is a bad case of information overload. No, nowadays, we don’t wish for more data. We often have more than we can handle. What we really crave these days is actionable data – something that will help us decide what to do next.

But what makes data – or any type of information for that matter – actionable? What transforms those terabytes of customer data, pages of Google results, or files of investigative findings into something that can be used for making great decisions?

While it’s true that what’s actionable for one person may be useless to another, I’ve put together this quick list of some general rules for making any type of information actionable:

  1. It’s delivered when you need it – Information doesn’t make much sense until we have a use for it. That explains why you notice all those new hybrid vehicles on the road just when you happen to be shopping for a car.
  2. It’s delivered how you need it – Not all of us use, remember, or learn from information the same way. Some like to crunch their own numbers, while many prefer a few charts and graphs that summarize the data.
  3. It’s easy to get to – You can’t use it if you can’t find it or don’t know it exists. Break down information silos and create systems for easy sharing.
  4. It’s gathered with the end in mind Who will be using it? Why will they be using it? What decisions will be made based on it? Make sure you’re collecting the right information.
  5. It’s distilled Do you really need to know everything? Information abundance – not scarcity – is the problem, so stay focused on what’s important to your goals.
  6. It’s up-to-date – Information is stale-dated. Continually clean your lists, update those statistics, and keep conversations fresh. Investments in ongoing data gathering and processing pay big dividends in customer experience.
  7. It’s been analyzed – What does the information mean? What patterns, trends, anomalies, etc. does it contain? Look for what surprises you and what doesn’t.

What do you think? What makes information actionable for you?

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