Startups, We Need To Talk About Your Data…

In my previous post I expressed my views on innovation and why it should be a continuum, and how it transforms countries or creates high growth businesses under extreme uncertainties.

I thought, I would share some of my experiences about why having a data strategy is important for that — continuum.

In the last few months I attended numerous startup events in Brisbane and met a range of talented people creating amazing businesses. I wasn’t just attending these events to meet new people or conquering my fear of missing out — I was also collecting stories, actively gathering data, synthesizing information and more importantly — listening. I was listening with my customer insights professional ears.

To my surprise, a large proportion of individuals were surprisingly uncertain about their data strategy. A majority of them have some sort of understanding but it may not be good enough for a high growth business? Being data aware is paramount to execute the strategy — but there is a method in madness. A good data strategy allows us to ask the right questions and helps us to look into multiple datasets to get a sense of direction. It helps to tell the stories and let customers care about your business.

We should use data as a flashlight, and not as a hammer.

People often ask me what is a good data strategy — In my practice I tend to classify this into three basic components — 1) Collection, 2) Storage and 3) Usage. Data collection can be as simple as collecting demographic details of your customers or it can be as complex as automated longitudinal studies. To note, a methodical data collection is extremely crucial for short-term goals and long-term objectives — you must collect the information today to use it in the future. In the recent times, data storage has become extremely important given the digital transformation of businesses and the ever-increasing volume and velocity of data generated by customers. And, it does ask for a robust IT strategy — but I will leave this for a different day. Then comes the usage — a well-collected data stored in a right format can be of a great value to take correct business decisions.

It is a culture of asking the right questions, approaching the right processes, and taking the right (data led) decisions.

Coming back to the continuum — a continuous improvement begins with startup founders engaging and reflecting on strengths and growth areas through continuous assessments. These assessments can be continuous feedbacks and opinions from customers, data collected using surveys about the quality of their product, or synthesizing empirical evidences to support vision and overall strategy. And based on my conversations during these events — a majority of data and insights efforts are used purely for grants or VC pitches to give investors confidence in their investment decisions. I understand that the best way to test concepts is through rapid prototyping and using interactive design process. However, a well-planned data strategy may uncover valuable insights that can always help provide direction and reduce potential re-work at various stages of your product / business growth cycle.

We all know that data comes in volume and velocity and but most importantly it also comes in variety and veracity — former two needs a Data Architecture Plan but the latter ones need a Data Strategy.

Data and insights can unquestionably help maximize your startup launch success but it can also act as backbone throughout the growth cycle. I have created a product life cycle graph and have depicted what types of data you can gather throughout the stages of the product/business life cycle.

My professional background is completed by intrepreneurial expertise in developing new businesses, formulating business strategies, and driving innovation processes.

I am always keen on coffee catch-ups as these stories make for better conversations. Just ping me on Twitter @ivibz

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