Using data collection to grow a business isn’t a new idea: large enterprises have been using big data since the early 2000s to increase sales and efficiency while lowering costs - among other things.
As large businesses have uncovered inventive new ways to apply data gathering, lots of different software platforms and data collection tools have been created to help small and medium enterprises to do the same. You’re probably familiar with some of them - you might even use some of them every day:
Google Analytics is the go-to platform to monitor and analyze website data like visitor numbers, traffic sources and conversions
Zendesk lets companies speak to their customers, acting as a digital help desk and storing all customer interaction
Hubspot gathers data from marketing teams, like inbound lead generation and landing pages
The data analysis fun doesn’t stop there: there are untapped data sources that lots of businesses haven’t even started to analyze - and this is valuable data that can be put into action to make businesses more successful. For instance, data collection can be used to make internal processes work better and systems work more smoothly.
What is data collection?
The definition of data collection isn’t terribly exciting: it’s the process of collecting and storing information about something you want to know more about.
There are lots of things a business might want to learn about, and lots of things a business might want to collect data about. For instance, data collection can be as simple as getting customers’ names and email addresses so they can send a receipt, or as complex as tracking seasonal buying patterns for specific demographics as they relate to the world political climate.
Thankfully for SMEs, gathering business data for analysis is usually simpler than it is for large companies.
Why is data collection important?
Data collection lets you find ways to make your business better. That could involve increasing profit, increasing efficiency, decreasing sales, increasing customers or anything else that improves business growth.
Some employee skills are really valuable to a business - for instance, a lot of experience in a particular market or a creative approach to common problems. But there are certain things that humans can’t do as well as a computer, like collect a huge amount of data and put it into a digestible format.
That's where software comes in. It can automate the collection of data and organize it so it's ready to be analyzed. And as soon as analysis gives way to insight, businesses have an actionable way to grow faster and more efficiently.
These data sources are waiting for you
The 2018 Data Value Report says that businesses are missing out on an average of $5.2 million per year by not making the best use of their data. Here are just a few of our favorite sources of data and the data collection tools you can use to make the most of them.
The spoken word
Audio and video are the new way to communicate: from all-hands video conferences with international teams to recruitment interviews, businesses can use data from audio and video sources to measure and analyze internal processes. Converting audio to text is easy using artificial intelligence: productivity platform Trint converts audio and video files to text in minutes, where it can then be used to improve the way a business works.
Another way businesses can leverage the power of the spoken word is by using automated transcription to transcribe archival libraries. Content can be monetized by making it into a searchable database: imagine years’ worth of radio broadcasts all being converted to text transcripts, making it easy for customers to find different moments in history. The process of transcribing the audio would take just minutes and would instantly create a new revenue stream that’s cheap to run.
Other companies’ data
If you don’t have the budget to collect data yourself, don’t sweat: other organizations collect data and make it available to the public for free. Here’s a list of data sources that you can access today: learn about a new market you want to expand into, research a database of human genomes or get metadata on over a million songs. This data is rich and it’s free for the taking.
Social media activity
Whether or not you think of Twitter and Facebook as credible news sources, they hold a wealth of really valuable data that’s waiting for you to use. They can give you fantastic insight into what resonates with your followers by tracking engagement with your posts; by learning what they want to read, you can create similar content, which will then drive more traffic to your website, improve SEO and increase positive word-of-mouth about your brand.
If you use marketing software, there may already be data collection tools for social media built into the platform you use. If not, Hootsuite is a great place to start.
Automated transcription lets businesses unlock the power of the spoken word. Learn about the other ways Trint’s platform helps businesses and teams get more out of their audio and video content:
Michael Nelson-Wolter, Marketing Manager
Michael worked for 8+ years as a manual transcriber in the US and UK before building an in-house transcription department for a mobile-to-web software company. He then moved to content marketing and now works in digital marketing. Michael loves to write about emerging technology, digital trends and the ways technology makes our lives easier.