By Emily Newton,
Data has quickly become one of the most valuable resources for businesses of all sizes. Effectively procuring, managing, and analyzing data can be a serious challenge, however.
With a data supply chain, it’s possible for any business to ensure data flows effectively from data sources to key decision-makers – ensuring that useful information helps the business make the best possible decisions.
Even for small businesses that may not have extensive IT or business intelligence teams, a data supply chain can be an invaluable asset in a modern, data-driven world.
What Is a Data Supply Chain?
A data supply chain is a lifecycle for a business’s data – a collection of processes that brings data into an organization and transforms that data into a form that provides value.
For example, imagine a digital retailer that captures user behavior and sales data using a combination of web analytics and their e-commerce platform.
Their data supply chain would include all the processes that capture this data, store it, analyze it, and present it in an understandable format (like a data dashboard). The components of this data supply chain would include various data platforms, analytics tools, cloud storage services, and data visualizers.
The total function of this data supply chain is to capture and analyze data on the business’s customers and sales numbers, then deliver it to key decision-makers in a form they can understand.
A robust data supply chain, for this business, helps ensure the smooth flow of data from data sources to decision-makers. A well-organized data supply chain also makes it easy to keep track of all of the business’s data, where it comes from, and how it is being analyzed.
If your business collects, analyzes, and uses data for decision-making, you probably already have some form of data supply chain. This supply chain may not be well-organized
, however, meaning you’ll be missing out on the full benefits a data supply chain can provide.
The Benefits of a Data Supply Chain
The specific benefits of a data supply chain will vary from business to business. Almost every organization will benefit from a data supply chain in a few of the same ways, however.
1. Data Transparency
With data transparency, it’s clear where a business’s data comes from and what sources of data the business has at its disposal. Data transparency is essential for ensuring analyzed data is reliable, and also for expanding a business’s data gathering and analysis capabilities.
This transparency also makes it easier to keep data secure and avoid data loss. When a business knows exactly what data it has on hand, it can use data protection strategies
like backups, encryption, and update schedules to keep its data safe.
You can only back up valuable data if you know it exists, so data transparency is an essential part of preventing data loss.
Transparency can also help businesses eliminate unnecessary data. Getting rid of this data can help the business cut overall storage costs and prevent digital waste
that can come with the storage of data that’s no longer relevant or useful.
2. Data Accessibility
A data supply chain ensures business data is easily accessible and exists in a format that is ready for analysis. Businesses that prioritize accessibility often use tools like dashboards and self-service business intelligence platforms.
With these tools, a business’s intelligence or analysis teams won’t have to spend as much time hunting for the information they need or formatting data for analysis.
Employees from outside the analysis team will also have easier access to the business’s data, empowering them to do their own analysis or review data whenever they need.
The business can also invest in data literacy training across the company. This training will provide all employees with the knowledge they need to do some analysis of their own, meaning everyone at a business can take advantage of data accessibility.
3. Easier-to-Clean Data
While data is one of the most valuable assets a business can have, not all data will be usable without the right preparation and cleaning.
For data analysis to yield useful insights, underlying data sets need to be more or less clean, accurate, and comprehensive. Otherwise, bad data will lead to a misleading analysis. Businesses often spend significant resources on cleaning
and preparing data for analysis.
With an effective data supply chain, cleaning data can become much easier. The business’s analysts or managers may not have to spend as much time organizing data and determining which tools or techniques will be best for prepping data for analysis.
As a result, business analysts and decision-makers can also be confident that their data (and relevant analysis) is accurate and that it can be relied upon.
Why Every Small Business Needs a Data Supply Chain
Just as a strong supply chain helps a business source goods, a data supply chain will ensure that data is gathered and accessible throughout an organization.
Businesses that invest in their data supply chain can benefit from improved data transparency and accessibility, as well as streamlined data cleaning processes.
Any business that relies on data to make better decisions should consider a data supply chain audit, plus tools that will make data easier to manage and analyze.