May 4th 2020 – By Danny Reeves

Data is crucial to a scaling strategy within a business

Originally published in Information Age.

Danny Reeves, CEO of Exonar, discusses the role of data in developing an efficient scaling strategy for business.

The fact is that in 2020, every company is a data company. Data is, and should be, a core factor in the building of any business strategy. Investing in, knowing and understanding data is crucial for a scaling strategy in any business.

For almost every business, moving from the phase of being an established start-up to a scale-up can be one of the most challenging periods of growth. Just doing more of what you are already doing on a larger scale to generate further revenue won’t cut it. Successfully becoming a scalable business involves narrowing your area of focus, and then making what you do repeatable at scale in order to unlock business potential.

Being able to access the right data helps leaders make smarter decisions about where to take their companies. Whether that’s to develop new products, unlock new markets or reach new audiences – it has a unique power to accelerate progress. But it’s both the enabler and the blocker, because there’s so much data, even in a small business, that it can be overwhelming trying to work out how to use it to find insight.

Of course, the data collected, created and stored during the course of everyday operations should be used to power the established processes that a business goes through, for example, using customer data in marketing to segment and personalise communications, or just-in-time data used to predict manufacturing output.

What’s vital is that companies think about what data they’re going to need in order to grow, so that they can go about collecting the right information. Start-ups often don’t think far enough ahead to consider what they might need later at scale-up stage, and by the time they work out what data would have been useful, they haven’t got it. Or if they do, they can’t remember where it’s stored.

There is unknown, or overlooked data stored within every organisation that could be the source of substantial benefit to a business at scale-up, or indeed any other stage of growth. The problem is, that most companies don’t have the ability to find that information quickly, due to the staggering volumes of data that they hold.

The ability for companies to know all of their data, then to be able to find and access the right information when it’s needed, is what we do with our customers at Exonar every day. The difficulty is that most organisations don’t know exactly what data they’ve got, or where it is stored, and they cannot easily extract value from it in a timely manner.

The data might, for example, give businesses an insight into finding new customers, purchasing and revenue trends, or process improvements. We’ve even had customers who have been able to find IP buried layers deep in data that was ten years old.

It’s by discovering and gaining visibility of structured and unstructured data at scale across an entire data estate that value can be extracted (and the associated security risk mitigated). When companies know what data they’ve got, it can be used to protect and power the organisation and the people it serves. Businesses can make informed and strategic decisions enabling exponential growth. In short, companies that know their data become ‘information intelligent’.

The role for data in business expansion doesn’t stop there though. It continues to play a key role in how companies measure the success of their scale-up operations. Without an understanding of data, there is simply no way to measure how well a business is scaling – after all, anything that cannot be measured simply cannot be managed. Data is essential to enable decision-making that will drive a company forward.