The history of the world is one of people creating, sharing and employing data as a means to an end. Whether it was the first time fire was recognized for its ability to cook food and keep people warm to the logistical benefits of the wheel to how a sales funnel can inform businesses how to perform better, this is a data-driven world. Understanding the basics of data is the first step to developing your business plan, achieving success, and business growth.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
The basics of data
In its most basic form, data is simply any information that is collected. Measurements, statistics, words and numbers can all represent forms of data. In the scientific realm, data is classified as either qualitative or quantitative. This transfers to the business world. The bottom line is that were it not for data, you’re just another person with an opinion.
In terms of qualitative data, you’re more interested in your client’s feelings about your brand or product. Numbers are eschewed in favor of the opinions, wants and needs of your clients. Businesses might use social media, for instance, to pose open-ended questions to clients regarding a product, service or potential change that the business is pondering. Often, these opinions are solicited by posing ‘why’ questions to consumers. Besides getting relevant data, the business benefits by engaging with its base in a way that reinforces feelings of respect for that base.
In terms of quantitative data, interest is in the numbers, like statistics. Businesses might pose questions to their client bases in order to get a feeling for what is working and what isn’t, and how best to move forward and see business growth. It is different than qualitative data in that, rather than soliciting a review or opinion, businesses are seeking numerical answers to their questions. If, for example, 70 percent of clients want to see more eco-friendly products from a brand, that business knows in which direction to proceed. Among other things, it is another way to honor client needs.
Businesses that are driven by consumer data are in a better position to cater to those consumers, and, thus, improve the standing of their brand. Some ways that businesses attempt to solicit data from consumers include:
- Focus groups
- Records and documents
Dealing with data ingestion
These days, in an age of constantly streaming data, people sometimes find themselves asking, “what is data ingestion?” When people discuss data ingestion, they’re talking about the process of obtaining and importing data for immediate use of storage in a database. The concept of ingestion is to absorb something, and data can be streamed in real-time or ingested in batches. In real-time data ingestion, each data item is imported as it is emitted by the source.
Two main types of data ingestion
There are two main types of data ingestion: batch data ingestion and streaming data ingestion. In batch data ingestion, data is collected and transferred in batches according to scheduled intervals. The ingestion layer may collect data based on simple schedules, trigger events or other logical ordering. Batch-based data ingestion is most useful when companies want to collect specific data points on a daily basis or simply don’t need data for making their decisions in real-time.
Streaming data ingestion is that in which there is a continuous, constant flow of data being generated and processed. While traditional solutions are built to ingest, process and structure data before it is acted upon, streaming data ingestion adds the ability to consume, store, enrich and analyze data in motion.
Marketers employ data to achieve their ends
In the business world, marketers utilize data to better understand their client’s needs, their brand’s strengths and weaknesses, the state of the market and scores of other things. According to recent reporting, marketers are prioritizing their data-driven enterprises in the following ways:
- To improve lead/opportunity quality
- To improve the use of data and analytics
- To improve the quality of customer data
Businesses employ data as a means to an end. Though it gets profoundly complicated when you begin discussing technical aspects like tracking and processing data, it all boils down to getting relevant questions answered for the betterment of the business.
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