So you want to make better use of data? Well. You need a plan.

Otherwise, using data to help your business is going be tough.

In this article, I’m going to talk you through three steps that I think are crucial in developing a data strategy.

But first things first…



The internet is the defining technology of our time. It’s a game-changer.

One of the biggest changes for business is data. We now live a huge part of our lives online – we buy stuff, we ask questions, we communicate.

And a lot of these behaviours and actions are measurable in some way. Which means the amount of info potentially available to organisations is massive.

But here’s the thing.

You can collect all the data in the world, but if you can’t turn it into insight – and use it to make decisions that benefit your business – it’s worth zilch.

Data is only as valuable as the action it inspires. Don’t collect it just because you can. Focus on collecting data you can actually use.



A lot of people talk about ‘big data’ – and ‘small data’ – but size isn’t what really matters here. It’s how useful the data is.

Identifying which data is going to be useful is really important. If you don’t do that at the outset, you’ll find it hard to extract any meaningful insights.

You’ll probably just feel overwhelmed. Not good.



So where do we start? This is going to sound weird, but it’s not with the data.

Try working through the following three steps.

How to identify useful data.

1. be clear about what you really need to know

Your business has goals. Key objectives it wants to achieve. So ask yourself this…

What questions do you really need to answer to help achieve those goals? What does your organisation need to know to get where it wants to go?

This is the starting point for your data strategy. Don’t begin by looking at the data you can get your hands on.

Start by identifying the questions you need to answer.

2. map out your data sources

OK. Now it’s time to look at your potential sources of data.

Do customers access your services online? If they do, you should be able to gather data from that.

Do you have a website, social media presence, pay-per-click advertising or email campaigns? They can all give you data.

Think about all the points of engagement and interaction between you and your customers, employees and other stakeholders. And whether those touch-points can provide you with data.

Consider third party data too. There could be other sources of data you can access. Map it all down.

3. identify data that can answer your questions

So you’ve identified the key questions you need to answer. And you’ve mapped out the data you can access.

The next step is simple. Work out which of your data sources (step 2) can help answer your questions (step 1).

The answer you arrive at is your useful data. And that’s the stuff you should focus on when you develop your data strategy.

Good luck. May the force be with you.