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How to make SMEs more data-driven

3 minute read

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How to make SMEs more data-driven

Everything we use today creates a digital footprint, from our mobiles to our credit cards. This has disrupted the environment in which we live, work and do business. Businesses are anticipating and predicting behaviour of their customers and workforce by ruthlessly mapping online search trails. Remember the last time you clicked on a product and it seemed to haunt you on all your social media profiles appearing in the form of advertisements or promotions, stalking you until you finally gave up and click the purchase button? Well, unfortunately, small businesses may lack the budget or inclination to walk this extra mile and chase their customers or in a similar instance retain their employees from leaving. Another reason might be the lack of skills associated to understand this complex scenario and use it to gain business traction. Whatever the case, small businesses are still figuring out how this complex web of data trails can lead them towards nirvana.

Before data there was intuitive guesswork, and there still is. Big data and Analytics enables us to put data behind our guesswork and ensures credibility for our actions. For small businesses, it is particularly important to understand their business model and what they are trying to achieve, otherwise, it is easy to be mesmerised by the plethora of data collection software available at their disposal. Collecting focused data ensures that businesses are learning, getting feedback and are held accountable. Simplistically, every social media application now offers a business account that offers analytics by collecting user data identifying visitors to their social media page, website and the associated engagement. For example, Facebook now offers a free tool called Business Manager that enables businesses to view analytics for each post published. Furthermore, it allows businesses to understand their followers’ demographics and potential customers. Understanding such insights can enable businesses to drive relevant user traffic to their website. It is also important to understand how users interact with your websites landing page. Hotjar is an impressive tool that collects such data and enables businesses to understand their web pages and mobile app interactions.

How to make SMEs more data-driven

Customers are one side of the coin, the second is your workforce. Small businesses usually have a high attrition – employee turnover. However, they sometimes lack the ability to identify the issue causing this problem. Research shows that 80 percent of the real value of the business is with the intangibles – simply put our people. So how does one go about collecting people data considering the current GDPR regulations in place? If you are new to the analytics journey and would like to save on budgets, I would recommend starting simply with Google Forms to collect your employee engagement data. Employee engagement can be evaluated by gaining perceptual insights into employees emotional commitments to your organisation and its goals via designing online surveys. This data collected can be analysed through softwares such as SPSS or Microsoft Excel. Excel is a powerful tool with visualisation options that can be used to highlight relevant information. The only downside is for small businesses to understand the relevant metrics and measures associated with people performance. Another great solution to all your people data problem lies with adopting Crunchr. Crunchr is among one of the best online solutions for workforce reporting and people analytics. It covers the entire employee lifecycle and provides insights towards workforce optimisation. However, to gain access to such a powerful tool, the HR department needs to be mature and have some basic data available. To gain a buy-in from stakeholders, Crunchr develops a business-case with HR.

It is important for businesses to develop a culture of trust by sharing this data and insights readily across the organisation, building on a progressive data culture. In time this will enable everyone to understand and predict trends related to their customers, products and people. The variety of software now available at our disposal have made life easier with little effort required for specific subject knowledge and more effort required on acquiring skills to use the software. Nevertheless, businesses have been unable to reap the full advantage of such software. Businesses need to now gather this information, start to analyse insights and predict trends that lead to action and success. They must be driven to use such software not only to collect and learn from their data but also hone new skills that can enable them to harness the power of data-driven insights. This will ultimately lead them to long-term sustainability and guarantee their success in this digital economy.

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Nadeem R Khan is the Managing Director at Optimizhr – a human capital consultancy that offers services around People Analytics, Talent Strategy and Leadership Development. A fellow of the CIPD, Nadeem specialises in People Analytics and its business impact. While at Lancaster University Management School, he interviewed top C-Level Executives in FTSE 100 and management consultancies in the UK to unlock his research question 'Why HR Cannot Embrace HR Analytics.’ Nadeem is also the official trainer for the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce where he works with SMEs to improve their performance and is an official contributor for Tucana – Europe’s leading community of People Analytics thought leaders.

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