How to Use Your Data to Solve Business Problems

When you hear terms like data wrangling, data analytics or business intelligence do you automatically tune out? In today’s environment, the volume of new vocabulary, tools and technologies is overwhelming. You may think these capabilities are reserved for large corporations with large budgets.

Large organizations often do have teams of resources dedicated to acquiring, transforming and analyzing data. Leveraging this information derives meaningful business insights and enables strategic decision making. However, with today’s tools and technologies, small and mid-sized organizations also have a tremendous opportunity to harness the power of their data.

Data Wrangling, Data Analytics and Business Intelligence – Oh My!

The best place to start is by identifying the questions you find difficult to answer or a problem you are struggling to solve. Then identify the data necessary to address the question or problem.

The data you need is often in disparate systems, in differing formats and relatively unusable. Data wrangling is the process of acquiring data, cleansing it and transforming it into a usable format. Once this is complete, you are ready for data analytics—the process of analyzing data to derive insights and conclusions.

As an example, suppose you are trying to determine whether you should increase the price of a product. The first step would be to define the problem statement. Should I increase the price of my product, and what is the likely outcome if I do (such as increased revenue, lost sales, lost customers)?

The second step would be to identify the data required to complete an analysis. Perhaps you would acquire your sales data, product cost data and customer sentiment data (data wrangling). Then you would analyze the data identifying possible trends (e.g., sales volume decreases as price increases, the cost of materials is increasing over the last five months), relationships (when customer sentiment is high, they are willing to pay more), and any other relevant information.

Ultimately, once all data has been acquired and analyzed, you would decide whether to increase the cost of your product. Business intelligence is this overall process of collecting and leveraging data to respond, react or report.

Get Started with Data and Tools You Already Have

It doesn’t take a big budget or dedicated staff to start using data at your organization. In fact, you might already have some of the most useful tools right at your fingertips. These can be reports prepared by your sales team, email marketing reports, financial reports, social media data feeds and website analytics.

By harnessing this data and using it effectively, you can accomplish a wide range of objectives and gain a strategic advantage over your competitors. For example, effective business intelligence can help you:

  • Market to customers more effectively
  • Monitor and track results more accurately
  • Identify customers’ needs more quickly
  • Manage inventory more efficiently
  • Improve sales and revenue forecasting
  • Streamline operations
  • Reduce costs


Historically, the process of acquiring, analyzing and leveraging data has been manually intensive. With so many systems and data formats and seemingly infinite information, the process of answering a question or solving a problem could take months.

There is a better solution. By leveraging tools and technologies widely available today, you can automate the process of sourcing, transforming, and analyzing your data. Some of the more popular tools include:

  • Microsoft Power BI – Suite of cloud-based business analytics tools with a 360-degree view of your most important data and the ability to build custom dashboards. Even better, you might already have this tool as a part of your Microsoft software suite.
  • Tableau Desktop – Interactive dashboards and visual analytics with drag and drop functionality.
  • Domo – Business intelligence platform with strong connectivity to thousands of data sources and built-in ETL (extract-transform-load) capabilities.
  • Alteryx APA Platform – End-to-end automation of data acquisition, transformation, and analytics

Ready to Start Solving Your Challenges?

Don’t assume that data wrangling, data analytics, and business intelligence are only applicable to large organizations. If you’re ready to harness the power of your data to make decisions, we can help. Talk to your advisor about the potential benefits of launching a business intelligence initiative today.

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