Start-ups have been called a ‘state of mind,’ designed to scale quickly by using innovation and sacrificing stability. Bold ideas with traction work; according to the 2015 Australian Innovation Systems Report, innovative firms are 60% more likely to report increased sales and profitability. And Australians haven’t been adverse to innovation either. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study conducted in 2014  reports that Australia’s total entrepreneurial activity is 13.1% of the adult population, which is amongst the highest of developed economies.

This is great news for the economy, yet with so many innovators coming to the fore, what can they do to make sure that they are gaining the competitive edge over other companies? I believe access to real-time, and responsive and timely data is the answer.

Behind every successful company is intelligent visual analytics

Knowledge is power, and companies attempting to innovate must learn to adapt their business models to leverage the sheer volume of data that they mine internally and externally. As the business world evolves, the need for up-to-date data will become more imperative as innovators find they have to be able to keep up with the latest industry events and market changes if they are to deliver real value and remain relevant.

The best use of visual analytics allows companies to make profound, strategic changes that minimise costs and maximise results. The information already exists; the opportunities to harness it are what produces real innovation.

Fostering collaboration with the right platform

The key challenges start-ups face in a fast-moving business world are lack of manpower, capacity and funds. Therefore, in order to upgrade, expand and restructure, management teams must be smart about their investments in technology.

Investing in a genuinely self-service analytics solution is the best way forward for companies undergoing digital transformation. After all, if they can access data themselves, then it will empower users to go in directly and understand what is happening to their business. The best data analytics platforms are user-friendly and simple enough that teams can manage and visualise their own data without involving an IT department.

The platform should also enhance collaboration across the team. In a highly mobile world, this means that all users must be able to access the same set of data in real-time through their handheld or desktop devices. Users should also be able to seamlessly share screens, hold discussions and add their own set of data into the conversation for joint analysis. Doing this gives the business more agility so that, whether employees are working remotely or from a serviced-office, data will be accessible to them at any time–thus, eliminating the need for firms to hire more office space than is required to effectively run the business.

The business of analytics and intelligent data

When it finally boils down to the actual analytics, most businesses defer to the status quo of viewing data; that is, they look at results based on direct queries. For example, a Director wishing to analyse ice cream sales during the months of May to July would only see data for that outlined period. In this instance precious insights would be left undiscovered as no ‘peripheral’ data would be considered alongside these months’ results.

Peripheral data is critical to unlocking the power of visual analytics, especially under the scrutiny of a collective team.

For example, the same Director examining sales data with his regional counterparts may find a correlation between ice cream sales and weather patterns simply because weather was analysed alongside ice cream sales data.

The team could then provide information to drive their marketing and customer outreach strategy. For example if ice-cream sales fall on an exceptionally hot day, they might, hypothetically, come to the conclusion that people prefer to stay in their cool at homes, rather than going out in the heat. That counters the perception that the hotter the weather, the more ice-cream sells. That’s an insight that one start-up might have above their competitors.

Conclusion

Harnessing the power of data, creating actionable intelligence at the click of a mouse and sharing those insights in a user-friendly format is a massive advantage for a small business which may not have the volume of manpower and the resources that a larger business would have the benefit of.

Hence, business owners and management teams must be open to a new way of reviewing the volumes of data available to them in order to see the whole story, and make intelligent decisions that bring the strongest value to their customers.