Effectively calculating a return on investment (ROI) is not the most intuitive exercise at the best of times, writes Rousseau Kluever, Managing Client Partner, Decision Inc. But given the growth of data in business today, it becomes a particularly challenging undertaking.

Often, the sheer amount of information works against decision-makers. However, organisations need to ensure they get the best value out of what has become their biggest asset – their data. And to do that, they need to determine its ROI.

In some respects, the only thing that has kept pace with the data explosion has been the technology capable of turning it into a competitive advantage. And while nobody wants to implement IT systems for their own sake, its role in unlocking the ROI of data cannot be ignored. Naturally, the technology used must make sense within the broader organisational strategy.

In other words, some businesses might not be able to fully capitalise on the likes of artificial intelligence until they have successfully embraced the cloud. Another example could be the rush to use the Internet of Things to generate even more data points even though the existing information has yet to be fully audited and analysed.

Question everything

One quick way to determine how successfully a business is leveraging its data is to ask a series of questions. These include whether people have timely access to key data in a visual format. This makes it easier for them to understand and quickly act on insights. Another question to consider is whether the business provides users with the ability to decide on how best to view the data in a manner that makes sense to them. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, companies should ask themselves whether they have experienced an ROI from their data.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then decision-makers need to rethink their approach to their data. After all, the economic and business environment is difficult enough without the organisation making it harder than it needs to be.

Capitalising on data

On the flip side, organisations who are benefiting from their data are using it to improve future decision-making by quickly identifying and understanding trends. They also highlight areas that need improvement that would not normally be obvious without data visualisation.

These companies are also using data to learn how their customers are using their services and maximising returns while increasing customer satisfaction. Ultimately, it is about growing the business by identifying the areas that need attention.

And without understanding the ROI achieved from data, this would not be possible. It is therefore imperative for businesses to start getting to grips with this value and unlock the benefits associated with it.

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