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How to Turn Data into Actionable Intelligence

In the days of old, scientists were tasked with the process of collecting, organising and analysing vast amounts of data. These scientists would often work for academic establishments such as universities, for government departments, and for private companies.

Today, data collection and analysis forms part of vital research projects which are used by companies in their market research for the purposes of gaining a competitive advantage against other companies.

In terms of websites, e-commerce sites and blog sites, data analysis has very much become an important tool. And in case you were wondering, “actionable data” is essentially information that empowers you to make decisions.

Why use actionable data?

It’s all very well and good looking at a bunch of statistics that some people have spent a painstakingly long time to collate and organise, but how can you use this valuable data? This is where the term “actionable data” comes in.

You know those awesome infographics of data and statistics that you often see online from various places? They are basically forms of actionable data.

For example, if you looked at an infographic about web browser usage and you were wondering what browser is best to develop an add-on for, this form of actionable data would help you to easily answer that question by quickly establish which were the most popular browsers in use around the world.

So if this sounds like something you could utilise in your business (in pretty much all cases it will be), here are some ways that you can use to harness data in order to make it actionable:

Use fast computer systems

The worst thing about processing data collected from various sources in order to start analysing is using a really slow or ancient computer system. To use a car racing analogy, which car is going to reach the finishing line in a quarter-mile race – a Ford Fiesta or a Ferrari 458?

Obviously the Ferrari will win such a race, and in terms of computing power a newer system with lots of RAM, a solid-state drive and a quad-core processor is going to be faster than a 10 year old computer with less RAM and processing power than your smartphone!

Do some sanity checking

In order to fine-tune the results of your actionable data, you will need to do an amount of sanity checking by testing the data and checking that it is valid and correct.

Starting small, and working up to bigger data

To use our browser infographic example, you could start from a basic data analysis for the browsers available for computers today, and drill down to more specific information such as the operating systems they are used on, the types of computer they are used on (i.e. desktop, laptop, netbook, ultrabook, tablet, smartphone, etc.) and the user’s language.

This would be great for helping you to determine which sorts of people would most likely use your browser add-on product. So now that you can see the many benefits to using actionable intelligence for your business, you will find your data more useful!

Flickr: PSSPifpri

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