Project management

How to Turn Data Into Knowledge

We live in the era of Big Data, in which information has become a commodity. Businesses at all levels are under more pressure than ever before to collect and collate data. But unless that data is used in a purposeful and strategic way, it will not add real-life value to your business.

Like all commodities, you need to use data purposefully. In this case: you need to turn it into knowledge.

The knowledge gleaned from using the right data in the right way will provide significant benefits for your business - revealing insights that will transform your decision making, your workflows, and the way your organisation behaves.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that over half of organisations that use data analytics report faster, more effective business decision making and real improvements to their bottom line.

Bridging that gap between the raw numbers and the day-to-day reality of your business operations has never been more important.

Here’s how to do it.

The Data-To-Knowledge Process

Transition uses a six-step process to turn data into knowledge. In a world where 60% of employees have to wait days for data analysis and 70% of the information collected by companies goes unused, this simple framework that turns raw numbers into actionable insights is key to maintaining a competitive advantage for our customers.

While it might appear that the process proceeds in a linear, sequential fashion, this is far from the case. In practice, each stage of this framework also represents a feedback loop that constantly evaluates the results and acquired learning.

Turning raw numbers into actionable insights requires the ability to swiftly course-correct our approach based on what we learn at each step. That's why we use a responsive and adaptable framework that is far more dynamic and cyclical than it may seem at first.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

As the inventor Charles Franklin Kettering said, “a problem well stated is a problem half solved.

So, understanding which insights and answers you’re looking for is key before starting any data analysis project. You need to know what outcomes you want to achieve (and how to measure those outcomes) - whether it’s for one department or your whole organisation. And context is key here. In different contexts, the same data reveals different knowledge, so it’s crucial to work out why you’re asking the questions you’ve identified.

Step 2: Define What You Need to Know

With the questions set, the next step is to discover what information you need in order to find the right answers. We’ll work with you to determine the metrics you need to track, and how different metrics relate to and impact each other. We’ll also help you uncover which people, teams and departments will need to contribute to ensure the right information is gathered - and how best to present your findings.

Step 3: Create a Data Map

We know what we’re asking, and what information we need to come up with the right answers. The next step is a data map to determine what data needs to be generated, collected and processed - and how. We’ll help you analyse and evaluate existing data sources and streams, and suggest how data flows can be optimised. A SaaS or bespoke BI application will usually be a better data collection tool than a scattered selection of Excel files and post-it notes!

Step 4: Store and Process the Data

By this stage of the process, you’ll be collecting large amounts of relevant data. But this will still be unstructured. Knowledge comes from structure, so we’ll advise you on the best ways to collate the information, before processing it to create structured, usable insights. With this done, your BI application or business analysts can move onto step five.

Step 5: Translating, Visualising and Reporting

Structured data is still difficult to parse. That’s why we recommend creating narratives. It begins with analysis - BI tools automatically checking the data for trends, patterns and inconsistencies - before the information is turned into narrative reports. By creating fully customisable dashboards, we can help you visualise and present data in a variety of ways and add that all-important context that makes it easier for your team to understand and absorb the insights you’re presenting.

Step 6: Turn Insight into Action

It’s easy to think that once reports are created, the job is done. But BI loses its purpose if you don’t move from insights to action. You need to clearly communicate the insights we’ve helped you uncover and use them to adjust existing workflows or create new ones. Repeatable, agile, and adjustable processes that help you facilitate an evidence-driven, action-focused culture.

We can provide you with the tools to generate the knowledge you need. But it’s up to you to act on what you’ve learned.

Why Adopt a Data-To-Insights Process?

As you can see, the way we combine business process audits, systems integrations, custom dashboards and Microsoft Power BI creates a streamlined way of generating data-led insights for your business.

But in terms of real-life value, what will that deliver?

  • Better performance tracking - an instant bird’s-eye view of your performance in key areas such as marketing, sales, and finance so you can set and track clear benchmarks.
  • Increased efficiency - faster, more informed decision making and insight-led KPIs mean you can eliminate bottlenecks in your day-to-day operations.
  • Faster problem identification - with flexible, real-time data dashboards, you can spot errors, risks and security issues before major problems arise.
  • Deeper analysis - gather accurate data on customers and competitors alike to inform your future decisions.
  • Instant pattern recognition - being able to see emerging trends and patterns in real time allows for easier planning of big-picture strategies, and more agile tactical decisions.
  • More integrated teams - a better flow of insights across your business will break down internal barriers, remove bottlenecks, and help divisions, departments and teams collaborate more effectively.

While Transition can help you build or implement the tools to turn data into knowledge, it’s always important to remember that people are more important than technology. We won’t just help you create or integrate BI applications - we’ll also use our diverse experience to help you find the insights you need and get your team onboard.

Because just like data is only useful as knowledge, BI applications (bespoke and off-the-shelf alike) only serve their purpose well when they’re created or implemented by people who understand your business and the context those applications will be used in.

Let’s start building that understanding with a conversation. Contact us today.

Last updated:
November 2023

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