4 Steps to Data-Driven Business Development

Learn about data collection, modeling, visualizing, and discovery.

Interpreting streams of data is part of business development and is critical in modern companies. Collecting data, using the right modelling, visualizing, and interpreting  the information is  a highly technical skill.

One of the most exciting parts of working in strategy and business development in the digital age is the amount of data available to guide decision making. Every industry is tracking metrics on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis, amassing mountains of data. However, with this overflow, the task of finding the right piece of information for a given challenge is worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack. It is better likened to finding a needle in a needle stack.

Locating one needle in the needle stack is not as harrowing as it sounds when you have the right tools and you know how to use them. Here are four steps to finding your organization’s most important needles in the needle stack, for effective data-driven business development.\


Having the right data is not to be overlooked. After all, you can’t find the necessary needles if they weren’t collected at the outset. To get to the right data, it is important to connect with your internal experts on data acquisition standards, process and implementation. If your organization does not have what it needs to handle the amount of data coming in, now is an ideal time identify opportunities for improvement. It may take additional organizational investment, such as movement to a big data solution, but having the right data foundation cannot be overstated.


With the right data collected as a strong foundation, organizations can transition to filtering the data, and start progressing toward finding the right needles in the needle stack. Predictive analytic algorithms and methodologies are employed in this phase to begin to narrow the search area of the needle stack. Many organizations, including Populytics, are fortunate to have analytics experts who can begin to link what they are seeing in the data to organizational goals. These professionals are valuable resources, supporting the transition of data to meaningful information through modeling as well as the visualization that follows.


Not being data scientists, strategy and business development professionals depend on vehicles that translate the data into useable, understandable formats. Similar to what graphical user interfaces (GUI) did for text-based computer interfaces decades ago, visualization software transforms algorithms and code into approachable graphic depictions that do not require users to hold technical degrees.

There are a host of data visualization software options to choose from based on price, platform type, deployment and business size. Populytics employs an interactive solution that is overlaid on business intelligence architecture. The dynamic nature of the tool allows the analytics team flexibility to customize the visualization for the audience, adding filters that layer upon one another to further narrow down the location of the needle in a particular needle stack.


For a strategy and business development professional, the process of discovery is by far the most interesting part of the work. Collaborating with analytics colleagues to walk through data presented usually brings about many questions, leading to brainstorming hypotheses about what the data is showing and how that translates into next steps. There is an iterative nature to discovery, investigating one hypothesis after another, using data as a guide to hone in on the precise location of the needle. When it’s found – whether on the first try or after a series of failed attempts – there is a rush of adrenaline associated with the success that is unparalleled!

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