Ever feel like you have more information but less ability to put it to use? You’re not alone. We hear that from clients large and small. Most of the time that comes from not being selective in the data being monitored.

Data can feel like an information firehose, impossible to drink. You want to channel the stream and adjust the spigot to fill your cup with only the good stuff. The goal: convert data into wisdom that drives action.


Refine Your Review

Carve out think time. If you’re always meeting, always talking, always reacting, you cannot plan. Start by focusing on your desired outcomes, then reverse engineer the path that gets you to the goal. At every step, there should be a metric that can lead to insights and aha moments. Hit a wall? Brainstorm with others. The group is smarter than the individual. Every time.

Set Expectations

Define critical success factors, or key performance indicators (KPIs), then make them your benchmarks for monitoring results. Tools will change – Google Analytics, TrendKite, Salesforce, Moz, whatever – but the need to demonstrate how effectively you’re achieving key business objectives will not.

Ensure that your data is visual, represented in clear, colorful pie charts, bar graphs, scatterplots, heat maps and more.

Done right, visuals help reveal trends and the bigger picture. They can spotlight best performers – and consistent underperformers.

Be Disciplined

KPIs are only as valuable as you make them. Strive for SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Sales KPIs can track your new-business pipeline as well as new revenue. Marketing KPIs are trickier, yes, but you should be able to track your share of voice, marketing-generated sales leads, website conversions, call-to-action responses, social-media engagement, event attendance and more.

Assign the activity to monitor, then set desired intervals and your planned reporting structure.

Take Action

Take corrective action as needed. That may mean amending your original objectives, adjusting your course – or completely changing it. You invest a considerable amount in your data. You need to give equal emphasis to analyzing it and basing future actions on those findings. So, be willing to change that homepage based on its high bounce rate, the timing of your email campaigns that get ignored on Mondays, the video that no one watches to the end. Data can lead to wisdom. Use it to your benefit.