The internet has enabled changes in communications and commerce, and we are becoming ever more connected. It’s not just large companies that have a global reach—the internet has enabled many businesses to reach beyond their own shores and work with customers and colleagues in different countries.
As a result, companies know they need to collect data from many sources: media monitoring information from everywhere they operate, social media data—particularly any sales generated by social advertising, logistical and shipping data, materials costs, and more.
It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed by the scope of data collection, particularly when one realizes that collecting information is only the first step, and the next step—analysis—is where the real insights are.
Here are some steps to take to ensure that you’re making the most out of your global data collection:
Plan ahead – This sounds like a simple step, but it’s one that can be missed when business unexpectedly grows quickly, particularly outside of your home country. Getting the right tracking and data collection systems in place as soon as possible will mean better reporting and analysis later.
A good rule of thumb is that whatever you are tracking in one place, you should try and replicate in any other regions or countries. A plan doesn’t have to be long or detailed, but it should be written down—that way, it’s less likely that a smaller but important metric will be overlooked.
Use local resources – Whether you are examining the efficacy of a PR program, advertising or marketing strategy, or sales data, having local resources you can tap to assist during the analysis phase will be helpful.
Language differences, external factors such as resource allocation or political climate, and cultural context are all facets that should be considered when you are trying to make sense of your data.
Without this added perspective, you might miss the “why” behind the data. Not knowing or understanding this key information can lead to the wrong solutions being applied to problems.
Standardize data when possible – After you’ve determined what data needs to be collected, review the formats in which it is being collected. Your data should be as standardized as possible, so that it is a simple process to analyze later.
Variations shouldn’t pose too much of a problem as long as they are logical (for example, a product that goes by different names in different areas or regions) and can be noted or identified as such later in the analysis and reporting.
Add qualitative data if possible – Quantitative data—the things we can count—seem to get the lion’s share of attention. There’s a reason for that: it is collected and reported and is clear and direct. Qualitative data is less easily categorized, but for context and providing understanding it can be very helpful to view in conjunction with hard numbers.
Global reporting can almost always benefit from this additional layer of insight, if it is feasible to add.
Reporting and analysis based on what you have – If you are pulling together data from different areas that is in different formats, you can still build effective reports by analyzing comparable data. In this type of scenario, what you should be looking to do is eventually get the data reporting standardized so that it’s easier to compare year-to-year.
Seeing what works and what doesn’t—which messages are resonating with audiences, and how that activity has impacted business goals—should be a core objective for any organization, but it’s particularly important for firms that operate in more than one country or region. The ability to leverage data by converting it into insight can help you to understand your customers better, wherever they are located.
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