THE BLOG
02/03/2015 03:52 pm ET Updated Apr 05, 2015

Business Management: We Don't Know What We Don't Know About What We Don't Know

It's an interesting concept, isn't it? We don't know what we don't know. This odd notion of not knowing about things that we think we do, can get businesses into trouble. Do you know how your data is impacting your bottom line? If not, it may be time to figure out the unknowns about your business or you could be headed down a path that's less than desirable.

By now, you're probably thinking that there's no way you couldn't know everything you need to know about your business. After all, you do spend day in and day out working there. But how often do you sit down and analyze your past records? Or predict future trends? Or
connect the dots between marketing efforts, new products, and your audience?

Taking time to delve into deeper issues of your business is crucial to becoming successful. With the emergence of big data, all signs point to the idea that utilizing big data is imperative in order to learn from your past, predict future trends, and ultimately, stay ahead of your competition.

But not knowing goes far beyond analyzing past trends or predicting the future success of your business. Big data not only looks at the big picture of your business, but it also makes connections between your business, your customers, the world, other trends, and more. Big data has emerged as a way to analyze everything about your business and this valuable tool should be utilized in order to stay successful.

This scary idea of not knowing about your business can be overcome by utilizing the power of big data. According to one of my business partners, Adam Fridman, Founder of Mabbly, "There's always something you can uncover about your business and a way you can apply it in order to get ahead." Whether you're a small business or large, check out these tips that can help you start knowing your business at its deepest level.

1. Know Your Competitors

It's important to not only know who your competitors are, but what they are doing. You should also know what people are saying about you. One easy way to tackle this is by setting up Google Alerts for both your competition and your business. This way, you can track what is being said about you and your competition. Keep your friends close, but keep your competitors closer. Bonus - this is free! No excuses!

2. Analytics

While there are many different analytics software packages available, you really want to take the time to make sure you invest in one that makes the most sense for your end goal. Not only will the software help you detect overarching trends, high quality analytics software will also identify subtle correlations. Never underestimate the power of small pieces of information - it could be the one thing that sets you apart from the rest of the competition. Start with the basics for your website, as well as whatever reporting your accounting software includes.

3. Consultants

Big data is a powerful tool, but it can sometimes be difficult and time consuming to understand what your data is telling you. If you don't know what you're looking for or haven't had experience with analyzing data, it may be a good idea to get some help. According to Dylan Dias, Chief Innovator and Co-founder of Neal Analytics, "Partnering with consultants will allow you to gain insight from the data you already have in order to assemble, analyze, and turn it into actionable information." Dylan and his incredible team are taking this to new heights for their customers, you can start small with perhaps the first question being, "What can we do with what we have on hand?"

4. Human Intelligence

After getting all of your data collected, analyzed, and made sense of, it's important to not go crazy with it. Make sure your plans make sense and have been thoroughly thought through before changing your entire plan. It's a good idea to invest in an opposition force, which is a group of team members that devote their time to poking holes in your plan. If you're a small business and can't afford one, simply spend some time strategizing with your team thinking about what could hold you back. Perhaps in your next strategy meeting, simply say, "Bob, your role in this meeting is to play the competition - poke holes in everything we think is a good idea." Almost every team has one negative person, this is a way to harness their outlook for a productive purpose.

Just like archeologists on a dig, you never really know what you could dig up when you start to utilize the power of big data. From knowing the competition to analyzing data to catching flaws early, these are just some of the ways you can start to uncover the unknown information of your business. The power of big data is immense as there are endless possibilities for predicting and analyzing. The data is already there; all it's waiting for is you to unlock it. Start using the power of your uncovered data, today!