What are the sources of data. Data analytics

by Sianna Shah

Staying competitive in today's marketplace requires an unceasing effort to adapt and adjust on the fly, making solid decisions backed up by supporting data. When you've identified a business problem, you need to find the correct data to help you solve it.

This involves identifying the needed data, gathering it, and refining it so you can make those informed business decisions. 

This blog will share how to identify your data needs and the different data categories and sources you can access.

 You'll also examine how to refine your data by scoping and validating it. And you'll explore some of the legal considerations and data standards you need to consider when accessing and analyzing data.

Understanding Data Categories

When facing a business problem, the best starting point is to gather the data you need to solve that problem. Then you can refine your data to ensure you can use it to make optimal decisions. 

Quickly said, but how can you achieve this? 

  • First, you have to identify your data needs and inventory them. 
  • Next, source the needed data and scope and validate it.
  • And finally, it's imperative to consider any privacy, security, or compliance issues associated with the data you've gathered. To begin, you've identified your business problem.

You've crafted a problem statement, and you know you must gather data to solve that problem. However, you need to understand what data is available before gathering your data. 

Sources of Data

Your data categories will most likely align with your organization's business categories. 

Large businesses' common categories include call centre or customer service data, billing and collection, pricing, supply chain, and marketing and social media data. The list is endless. But the point is that each type has its benefits.

You aim to source the most valuable data that will inform your decision-making as you work to solve your problem. But where can you get your data from? Often the lack of valuable data sources isn't an issue. 

Indeed, you might be faced with too much data. After all, data is everywhere. People, apps, and bots are constantly generating it. Think about the Internet of Things and the geometrically expanding number of devices now connected to the Internet. You can gather valuable data from the Internet of Things to help complement other, more traditional data sources. As well as different data sources, it would help if you considered data types.

In general, data is either structured or unstructured. 

  • Structured data usually comprises quantitative or numeric data. Think of an Excel spreadsheet with rows and columns of data about, for example, a quarterly sales report. Most data used to be structured data. 
  • Recently, however, there has been a marked increase in unstructured data. This is data that comprises, for example, notes, voice or audio files, and even images. Think of a salesperson's notes and sketches after a client meeting. Emerging technologies can store this unstructured data in a way you can then analyze it, just like structured data. 

The combination of unstructured data and new technologies is an invaluable data source.

Sources of data collection

Data can also be divided into different data categories. Even though there is a vast amount of data, most organizations collect the same general categories of data, like the category of customer data, such as

  •  Call centre and marketing data. 
  •  Sales data, including historical or regional sales and pricing data. 
  •  Human resources, or HR data, refers to recruitment, hiring, and employee contracts. 
  • Operational data is a fourth common category. It refers to, among other things, data related to processes and projects. 
  • Finally, there's financial data, including financial performance and forecasts. 

Data is out there, mountains and mountains of it. The trick is finding the correct data and looking at it the right way to make these mountains work for you.

Closing comments

To make the best decisions for your business, you need access to the correct data. This blog post has taught you how to identify your data needs and what sources you can go to to find the information that you need. 

With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions that will help keep your business competitive and successful. 

To learn more about data analytics and principles, take a data analytics AICPA certification course from Eduyush.

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