Gaining competitive advantage by being data-driven

In many articles I have talked about the importance of data in many different ways. Data is becoming more and more important in every department of your company. Optimizing processes and enabling people to invest their time in the things and activities that really matter is one the greatest benefits. However let’s take this data outside. Of course it is amazing to create all these benefits but in the end you have to have clients who are willing to invest their money in your product or service. How can me we make your company data-driven to the outside? And by doing so gaining real competitive advantage?

How to create this real advantage?

In order to create this real advantage of being data-driven you might try to invent the wheel again. But why shouldn’t we look at companies that already in place and well known because of their competitive advantage created by being data-driven? What do they do different? Articles from different authors and the companies described in the links are not all aligned so I intend to take the in my opinion most important factors:

Data-driven is a culture

Real data driven companies do realize that the whole company must be aligned in order to reach the strategic goals. It is not only by top-ranked VP and Directors, but everybody is involved. You can find the goals of every employee or co-worker as you like in line with the strategy. It is in this case the goals of the employee are primarily defined in quality measurement. Inspiring and making the difference is what most of them drives.

Data-driven is listening

Just by looking at your gathered data is not going to give you competitive advantage. Pulling reports and creating dashboards to gain insight in the performance is still no competitive advantage. It about listening to the data and see what is not there. Historical patterns combined with new age technology of algorithms could be creating your companies competitive advantage.

Data-driven is agility

The “old” companies and often still the biggest companies around these days find themselves challenged everyday by little and fast-moving companies around them. Those fast-moving companies steel market share because of their capability to move fast and serve the client. Agile originates from software companies and their development teams. More and more software companies take over “old world” activities for example: Uber, Facebook, Google and many others. They challenge business models and are capable of moving and expanding fast. Agility also means continuous improvement and is visible in data-driven companies. Everything the client or product does generates data and that data is used to anticipate and improve on a large scale but a in a fast way.

Data-driven is a believe

Being data-driven is all the other factors mentioned earlier but in my opinion the most important factor is believe. Believing that the data can tell you the story and gives you the insight in order to be different from your competitors. It is a believe and all the “natives” such as google and amazon believe in their data. More important all their employees believe in data and the breath it.

 All the components together contribute to a data-driven company. It is not easy to change because many factors are human-driven. Items such as culture and believing are the most difficult ones. From my point of view every company must take this turn in order to survive n the long term. And if your company is not able to do so, think about the possibilities of creating a environment for incubators.

Being data-driven will give you competitive advantage. Most of the individual components already described some benefits. It is up to you to filter them out and use them to become data-driven and claim your competitive advantage.