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Importance of Data (Part I)

Published on 27 June 2023

Esteemed management consultant Peter Drucker was known for timeless business advice, including this essential insight:

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.”

Today, this management imperative is easily within reach of any/all business leaders (regardless of company size, operational complexity, geographic footprint, etc.).

Organizations generate significant amounts of proprietary data in their daily operations. These measurements give managers meaningful insight and a nuanced understanding of performance…across each facet of their business. This ‘precision knowledge’ (e.g., what’s working well and where do deficiencies exist?) can inform optimization strategies that lead to significant competitive advantages.

And compiling/analyzing internal information can be a turn-key task when equipped with the proper tools. The purpose of this two-part blog series is to highlight the path to enduring, profitable business success using the right analytic tools for internal data-mining.

Why Does Data Analytics Matter?

When properly collected and analyzed, internal data becomes a systematic source of management knowledge (which often is missed in cursory observation and/or ad hoc measurement). A direct and clear line of sight into the totality of your business performance: from upfront demand generation to back-end operations and bottom-line results.

Operationalizing this insight can yield important competitive advantages, including:

  1.     Consistency in business processes eliminates potential human errors
  2.     Expanding outputs and efficiency through data analysis
  3.     Improving real-time insight with data accuracy
  4.     Reducing waste, increasing yield through optimization equates to cost savings
  5.     Upgrading your customer service by pulling the client into the process
  6.     Improving employee morale
  7.     Shortened manufacturing times (a.k.a. optimize operations)
  8.     Greater management of operational intelligence (optimizing data hidden in plain sight)
  9.     Determine where your business is losing money to maximize profits
  10.     Making strategic decisions like entering/exiting a product line or buying new machines

What are Data Analytics?

Simply put, it’s the process of organizing raw data, mining it for meaning, and applying the emerging insight to solve issues and/or address opportunities. The more robust analyses of internal data typically involve software (e.g., CNC machines, optimization software solutions, e-commerce solutions) to find informational patterns, including:

  1.     Descriptive analytics: what happened
  2.     Diagnostic analytics: why did something happen
  3.     Predictive analytics: what is going to happen
  4.     Prescriptive analytics: what should happen next

What Powers Data Analytics?

Every employee, machine, process, supplier, distributor, customer, and/or prospect generates data that can be mined. If you use the proper software, data is easily collected, stored (typically for a pre-specified period of time), and turned into information.

Talk with your software provider to find out what/how their system(s) collect, store, and transform data. Work with them to configure systems that highlight bottlenecks, breakdowns, breakthroughs, opportunities, etc. within your organization/infrastructure…in easy-to-understand formats (e.g., visualize trends through graphs and charts).

You can’t discuss data and its analysis in 2023 without raising the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is a field within computer science that references any sort of intelligence demonstrated by machines. How can AI-powered tools help fabrication companies, such as yours, mine data? AI uses algorithms (usually continuously) to monitor and analyze large amounts of data. By automating this normally time-consuming process, AI-powered tools can offer greater speed, scale, and more finite granularity unmatched by humans. With faster access to trends in your data, you’re able to make quicker decisions. Will AI-powered tools become important in glass fabrication? Only time will tell!

Software is an invaluable way to ‘lift the hood’ on your business. 

In Part II, we’ll explore the role of software plays in measuring & optimizing the performance of your business.

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