There’s a saying “feedback is  the food of champions” and whilst historically you'd expect that to be in the form of a pat on the back, nowadays the real game is won and lost from the information we are continually gathering from our products, customers, team-mates. 

I am continually learning about the importance of feedback and it’s this data driven from all aspects of our business that keeps us fresh and on our toes.  

Data is all about honesty, data doesn't lie and you can’t hide from it. A well constructed report on the activity of a team-mate who is under performing helps reinforce any tough conversations you may have. 

What is data? We’re surrounded by it and, in an increasingly connected era, we could easily drown in it!

Whilst it seems the whole world has been talking about Big Data for years, 2016 seemed to provide a turning point in actual, useable and affordable analysis of data with real-world impacts in business.

And this is only going to continue. The International Data Corporation predicts that spend on Big Data analytics will reach $187 billion (£152 billion) – more than 50 per cent up on its five-year forecast.

Data security is also quickly reaching the top of the business agenda, with huge brand names like Yahoo! and TalkTalk suffering the consequences of massive hacks.

Cyber security is constantly evolving because threats are changing all the time as hackers find increasingly clever ways to steal your business’ mission critical information.

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Whether you’re focused on data analysis or not, securing your most valuable business asset is essential.

So are you using data? I have absolutely no doubt that you are – often we’re using more than we realise. The key is actually making the most of that data, not letting analysis and management of it become a distraction from your main business aims and outcomes.

We’ve long used data analysis in various guises, and big data to some extent, here at UKFast - especially when it comes to the two most important parts of any business: our team and our clients.

When it comes to using data in recruitment, I’ve long been an advocate of psychometric testing to give a visible insight into a potential employee far beyond that which can be gained in an interview.

This process puts the seemingly intangible into graph form and gives an overview profile that can be compared with other people in a team to see how they would work together, how they’d best learn and what would most likely motivate them.

It’s an invaluable tool that we’ve learned to use over the past decade or so, evolving how we interpret data and the most efficient way of working out whether someone will be happy in the UKFast team.

UKFast team

To put it simply, a happy team means happy customers and we monitor this using Net Promoter Score or NPS. A technique that involves feedback for every support ticket that a client raises and we resolve. Clients are offered the opportunity to provide a rating out of ten, these are then collated and combined to make our NPS score – a trackable measure of customer satisfaction.

Not only does this data give us a trackable metric of customer sentiment, it also becomes an engagement tool to encourage teams to provide the best level of service and reap the rewards.

The NPS score is live on our website, across screens around the business and we incentivise teams to compete with one another to achieve the best NPS scores.

Alongside this we’ve a plethora of stats and real-time information that monitors our network efficiency, how each team is working toward its targets, and who is winning the annual competitions that we run. These are all incredibly important motivational tools.

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These stats enable us to spot trends and predict what our customers will need next. A key example of this came a few years ago when, whilst monitoring our network, we observed a trend in backup data which led to the creation of a completely separate network for all sideways backup traffic, speeding up the main network for our clients’ main business activities.

Whilst these are both relatively simple examples of data analysis to impact business decisions, they’re actually essential. It is easy to become lost in the cold numbers and streams of information but when it comes to using data within your business to help you to make key decisions and choices, these two groups of people need to always be at the forefront of those choices.

They’re the groups that will ultimately make or break your business.

The key is striking a balance between the two – data and automation should be in place to support your employees and help you to make better decisions for your clients.

We need the hearts and minds of people to combine with data and technology, nothing can replace human intuition and relationships.

BELOW: Flick through the Q1 2017 edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazine

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