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Good as Gold, Part II

Good as Gold, Part II

Buried under mountains of information?  In today’s era of data overload, one renowned industry veteran helps make sense of the critical process of data management.


It’s often been said that “data is king” and “the one who masters data will rule the world.”  But with so much data now available at every turn and from so many sources, how do you prioritize which specific information to gather, what should be done with it, and who should be doing this job?

In Part 2 of this special two-part series, Maureen (“Mo”) Barsema — founder of Outside Looking In and former NAED chair, executive vice president at Revere Electric Supply, and co-owner & CFO of BJ Electric – offers advice on the need for good data, tips for prioritizing its use, and why a good data analyst is among the best investments a company can make.


tEDmag: How important is good data to electrical distributors? 

Barsema: The operative word here is “good” data. According to Google, the philosophy of data is “things known or assumed as facts, making the basis of reasoning or calculation.” If your data isn’t “good” or “clean,” then how can you rely on the insight the data is providing to make reasonable and directional decisions? Good data is gold and represents the very essence of what a company needs to tell the non-fictional story of reality and then do something about the uncomfortable chapters in their book.

tEDmag: From your experience, what are some best practices for gathering, deciphering, and delivering data?

Barsema: Data is so massive. Everyone needs a robust business intelligence and data analytics software tool such as PHOCUS, MITS, Waypoint Analytics, etc. to shine a light on the facts of your business life, expose the truth of your performance efficacy to drive change management, breed best practice behaviors, and create a culture of performance surety.

tEDmag: There’s so much data out there that distributors need to stay focused and prioritize their efforts. What type of data do you feel they can or should ignore because it’s less useful, deceptive, etc.?

Barsema: Data is a guided truth that exposes what happened in the past, enabling a company to look at current trends versus dated trends. It’s a massive job to gather data in a reasonable and efficient manner. For that reason, it’s great that we have companies like PHOCUS, MITS, and Waypoint Analytics to provide an experienced and commonly-used platform of reports and dashboards; these enable a company to cut to the chase and avoid spending time on less useful information. Having said this, one needs to understand that the data is exposing past behavior. It needs to be aligned with current initiatives so that you know, for example, if a marketing blitz is working for you or if a focused customer target market is performing better in the white space opportunities the data once exposed.

tEDmag: What other data-related pitfalls can distributors end up falling into?

Barsema: First and foremost, every company needs to analyze their data, so not having dedicated resources assigned to this incredibly important part of your business is a true miss. Doing nothing with your data will get you nowhere. Dedicated resources assigned to your data will enable the company to discover paths of opportunity and directionally grow to a more sustainable future. While companies are often quick to spend money on analytical software tools, their plan also needs to include someone to lead the charge and get the most out of that investment – e.g., a “data champion” who understands how to use data to support the company’s growth and performance goals. Investing in both the tool and the talent will help ensure that you maximize your investment and can enjoy all that the tool and the underlying data it captures are capable of revealing.

tEDmag: What are the best ways to capture data and keep it organized now and in the future? Barsema: The point of capturing data is to gather, analyze, take away, and achieve something greater than what you’re doing today. Take time to listen and to understand the story the data is telling. The best way to gather data is through your business systems and tools. Once the data is captured, you need to analyze the information in order to take away the messages the data is revealing and achieve directional improvements. As mentioned before, it’s critical to employ data analysis talent to maximize your data’s effectiveness, improve your business landscape, and secure your company’s future.

tEDmag: Any final piece of advice you can share with distributors to help them succeed in their data-related endeavors?

Barsema: Carly Fiorina, former executive, president, and chair of Hewlett-Packard Co., said it best: “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”


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Susan Bloomis a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry.Reach her at susan.bloom.chester@gmail.com.

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