Using Data to Make Decisions, Ask the Right Questions, Find the Best Answers


As VM’s Cover Topic this month illustrates, the explosion of data in our business lives, fueled by digital technologies that capture so much, is providing new opportunities to make better decisions—that is, if we look at the patterns and illustrations that data and accompanying “dashboards” provide. Data about your retail business, and your eyecare practice (and the recognition that these are two distinct parts of your business) can identify important business trends, support better business decision-making.

If you’re not really using a data dashboard yet, it’s time to consider one. Because this is not just a technology for larger chains or big groups. Yes, data analytics are critically important to them, too—and, believe me, the “big guys” are using those analytics. But because having a clear sense of “what’s really happening” versus what you “think” is happening (or “should be” happening) is often a game-changer.

Are you as productive as you think you are? Are your associates as productive as they think they are? Are you selling as much of “this” as you thought you were or are you instead leaving other opportunities for “that” on the table because you haven’t prioritized them in your sales efforts?

Data is used today for many things and understanding your own numbers is a critical way to make the most of what you and your team are doing and improve your decisions for the next steps you’re going to take.

As we were researching some background for the ideas in this VM feature, I came across an interesting point which was offered by a large software firm encouraging use of its own data analytics capabilities. The website advised, “Transform data into answers.” It noted, “Get the answers you need, faster.”

That’s probably the best way to look at today’s modern solutions for examining data—as a better way to identify the questions you should ask and to illustrate what you’re doing, how it’s working, and what to tweak and make better—or, what to abandon in order to implement something new.