Why your small business needs a data expert

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The rise of data-driven business models is creating an insatiable need for data and analytics experts across every industry and business — including start-ups and SMEs. In this article, John Salt, Co-Founder of Only Data Jobs, a jobs board dedicated to data and analytics positions, explains why small businesses should include a data expert in their roster right from the start.

Businesses across every industry, of every size, in every country are applying data-driven approaches to their day-to-day operations. McKinsey predicts that by 2025, nearly all employees will naturally and regularly use data to support their work, and organisations will operate better by backing every decision up with data.

But while adopting a data strategy and becoming data-driven is already well underway for many large businesses, data is a tool that every business could, and should, be making use of. With the right expertise in place, small businesses can tap into the value of data too.

What can data do?

Data is produced by almost every single business function. The challenge lies not in producing data, but in being able to collect and analyse it in such a way as to gain actionable insights from it.

Data-driven business models base all their strategic decisions on data analysis and interpretation. Whether it’s to understand a target market and direct project strategy, to predict the potential impact of changing pricing models, or to determine what’s worth investment, businesses can use data to determine the best course of action for success.

Making the right decisions when it comes to where to invest time, effort and resources is crucial to the long-term success of a business. But what are the benefits for small businesses in particular?

Right from the start

Start-ups and small businesses that are right in their infancy have a unique opportunity when it comes to extracting value from data. Many older organisations looking to become data-driven have years of historical data that must be analysed to get a realistic idea of what’s been happening. While this is time-consuming, it does present them with the data required to back up future decisions. However, for younger businesses, there isn’t this historical data to hand.

While this means that it may take some time to generate the data needed to back up informed decisions, it also presents an opportunity to get things right from the start. Gathering data from the beginning and using technologies including data analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), allows small businesses to accurately set their key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure progress and track their growth.

Small businesses do not typically have huge budgets and every penny counts when trying to scale up. Being able to make business decisions with quantitative evidence not only gives business owners peace of mind that their decisions are the best course of action, but it is also a valuable trust marker for smaller businesses trying to build confidence within their industry and with their customers.

Making it happen

Having determined what a business wants to get out of its data, and how it impacts its growth plans, it’s then time to create the processes to get there.

Having the right systems in place ensures that your data remains accurate, reliable, and accessible to everyone in the organisation. But to keep things in order and ensure the insights from data can be understood by those without a technical background, having the expertise to ensure smooth operations of data systems is crucial.

OnlyDataJobs is a jobs board with over 13,000 postings dedicated to data and analytics positions, creating an optimal environment for small businesses to find the talent they need to elevate their operations to a data-driven state. Covering all industries, permanent and temporary and remote working patterns, and with over 4,000 candidates already registered, small businesses can find the experts they need to tap into data’s potential.

Data is undoubtedly the future of decision making, as businesses increasingly look for reassurance that they are investing in the right place. For small businesses, there’s often a lot on the line, but hiring the right data expertise will result in knock-on benefits and insight to give business owners peace of mind that their future decisions are the right ones.