Very often Small Businesses have overlooked the importance of Data and record keeping. Simply put, when we are big enough, we would have the resources to buy, implement, maintain and use a proper record keeping system.
What is Data? What is information? What is the value of Information? Why do we keep records? How does the record/ data/ information help my businesses?
Data describes the facts and figures that a company processes every day. In a retail environment, each sale will be recorded. However, a company will learn little looking at each sale in isolation. Data becomes information after it has been processed to add context, relevance and purpose. Analysis of daily sales will reveal trends and patterns, such as peak shopping days or biggest-selling items. Knowledge is a set of beliefs based on the relationship between pieces of information. A retailer may know to order additional cakes on a Tuesday because these are his biggest selling item every Wednesday. For example a company sells Puff loaves close to a school compound and a church and records its daily sales of 50ghc. It also makes a sale of 150gh on Sunday. Once these information are recorded. They are deemed data. But once the company decides to start making decisions based on the data collected, with respect to order, stocks, etc that data becomes information.
An important distinction has to be made between Data and Information. Data is the raw facts and statistics, whereas Information is Data that is accurate and timely; specific and organised for a purpose; presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance; and can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty (as perhttp://www.businessdictionary.com/ ).
The key importance of information is – it allows a business to make informed decisions by presenting data in a way that can be interpreted by management. In this context, customer information would be useful in providing metrics surrounding client/customer engagement to determine better ways to engage or work with your clients.
However, it must be stated that the value of information lies not only in the information itself, but the actions that arise from the information. For example, if the information alerts you to poor customer satisfaction, it is only useful if this creates a change in the way the business deals with customers. Hence the information process should form part of a wider review process within the business to gain the best outcomes. Whereas Data importance lies in the fact that it is the building blocks on which information is gathered. As such Data and information can never be ignored in the daily activities of a company.
Types of Data/ Information that a small business needs
Every business (even the waakye business) needs information to help it succeed. A combination of internal and external business information resources can provide the background necessary to evaluate current performance and plan future progress. Knowing the types of information resources that are most critical to business can help companies plan for capturing, analyzing and using that information most effectively.
Internal: The first source of information that businesses should turn to is the information they already have. Every business will have the ability to gather information about employees, about sales and about customers. Setting up systems and processes for gathering the right information can help business owners track, trend, analyze and act upon business that gives them clues into such issues as what drives employee satisfaction, the products most demanded by customers, areas of employee and customers satisfaction and dissatisfaction.Industry Information: Every business can consider itself part of at least one industry, if not more. And every industry has an association connected with it that can serve as a rich source of business information. Joining the appropriate trade and professional associations can help businesses gather information about industry trends, best practices and resources.Competitive Information: No business is without competition and gathering information about competitors is critical. Fortunately, this is easier than ever to do with the advent of the Internet. Through search and through participation in social media–sites including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn–businesses can gain competitive intelligence about what others are doing.Government: The government provides an enormous amount of information of use to small businesses, much of it available online. Keeping up with legal and regulatory trends is a key area of business information need and one that can be managed effectively by visiting sites that include Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana investment promotion council, etc. Virtually every government agency has a website
Importance of safe Data Storage for Small Business!
Data Storage is turning vital to every business, irrespective of the size and vertical it holds. But small businesses often underestimate the need to have good data storage in order to safely backup vital information and to distribute data quickly when required.
However, this practice seems to be slowly changing these days, as most of the organizations are learning the importance of having a reliable storage, out of their disastrous experiences of meddling with a shaky one.
Thankfully, there are some inexpensive storage options available for organizations, irrespective of their status of being a start-up or in the market to expand their current storage solutions.
If you’re concerned about the safety of your company information or simply need additional data storage for your growing business, then please pursue the following instructions and succeed.
First and foremost
Generally speaking, there are a number of reasons why data storage happens to be a vital part of any business, and one of the biggest factors is keeping company information secure from hacking pirates. Malware can easily wipe off data and it’s imperative that backup solutions are in place in order to quickly retrieve wiped files. Catastrophic disasters like snowcalypse, floods or fires can also lead to data loss; which is why disaster recovery solutions can help a business to access their info as quickly as possible. To save from this negative juncture a sound backup strategy will be needed and the resource could be as simple as whether storing data on external hard drive or on cloud storage.
The need for scalable storage
As a business grows so does the need for more sophisticated storage facilities, especially if you have employees dealing with apps (like financial transactions) which require large amounts of information storage. For certain businesses, there may also be legal compliance requirements that mean certain historic information must be stored as part of data retention policies. There’s also the simple scenario of upgrading software in your business making higher demands on your HDDs over the long term. All of these factors plus the safety of your info should be enough to make business owners aware of the importance of this tech requirement.
Storage needs assessment
Factually speaking, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to enterprise data storage. So some assessments should be taken before deciding on the right solution to meet your storage needs. An assessment should include old and duplicated information, as well as non-business related data and how long certain data has to be retained. Other factors such as how quickly the business would recover from a disaster and the ability to share info easily with off-site employees also need some spotlight. The other point will be the need to free up more space via off-site servers and cloud storage solutions. Though, the later needs a second thought when it comes to security and integrity factor, if carefully handled can prove handy.
Available storage options
The good news for small businesses is that there is a wide range of data storage options available to suit every size of business. This can include expensive smaller devices such as flash memory thumb drive for mobile use, external hard drives for those who need little additional storage or move it to cloud Storage. Third party storage such has backing up from your own network to a remote data center server is another safe and reliable option, which can be good for large companies.
To those, who are more worried to keep their data safe and secure and are not worried about the investment, NAS and SAN appliances can also prove helpful. Obviously, if data is critical for a business to perpetuate, going for hybrid appliance which offers on-site storage needs and integrates with cloud storage can also be resourceful.
Upgrading your current data storage environment isn’t a move to be taken lightly. If your data storage environment is not up to the expected performance mark, then going for a forklift upgrade will surely make sense. All the pains and gains in upgrading, migrating your company’s storage resources & data will be looked after by the said company.
Paul A. Williams – [email protected] (MBA-MIS, MBCS, MCITP, ITIL)
Paul is an Information Systems analyst/ consultant with varying experiences from various industries. He is an adjunct lecturer and consults on various projects for firms in the areas of ERP implementation, Security, Networking, Business continuity & Intelligent Systems and is a project coordinator for startech