30 Surprising Business Questions Data Can Answer

by Cătălin Pop
Cătălin is the lead Project Manager at Tecknoworks, with extensive experience heading international projects in Data Analysis, Business Intelligence, and Office Automation.

Most organizations that start an analytics initiative have similar big-picture business questions they hope data can answer. These include:

  • Analysis of customer behavior and buying patterns
  • Tracking and predicting sales
  • Streamlining processes and operations
  • Budgeting and forecasting

You’re probably interested in leveraging BI for these general purposes as well, and rightly so. The more you know about your customers, sales, operations, and finances, the more impactful your decisions will be.

But you may be surprised by the long list of very specific questions the right BI strategies can answer. Some of these discoveries result in small business adjustments; some in huge shifts. They all add up to improved organizational insight and increased bottom line.

Here are just a few examples of what you can uncover:

Sales and Marketing

  • What is the ideal length of time between initial prospect contact and first follow-up?
  • Which sales rep collateral has the greatest and least impact on conversion?
  • Which customer segments are most likely to promote us on social media?
  • What are the ideal cross-sell and up-sell opportunities per product? Per customer segment?
  • How can we optimize retail display per location?
  • What is the best path to conversion based on each funnel stage?
  • Which marketing initiatives will actually maximize return?
  • Which prices can we increase, and by how much, and still retain customers?

Outcomes: Deeper customer understanding, refined sales strategies, more conversions, higher ATV, smarter outreach, better social proof, optimized funnels, increased profits.

Human Resources

  • What do our employees value most at work? (You could even segment this into top 10% of performers; by department; by role, and so on.)
  • What do our longest-tenured/best-performing employees have in common?
  • What do employees who leave within 1-2 years have in common?
  • How effective are our onboarding programs? Training programs?
  • How can we spot a valuable employee at risk of leaving?
  • What percentage of employees are disengaged from the organization and from their work?
  • What combination of compensation and bonuses will most motivate performance?

Outcomes: Attract and retain the best talent, maximize productivity and employee satisfaction, pinpoint recruitment efforts, reduce churn expenses.

Supply Chain

  • Where are the biggest holdups in paperwork and procurement?
  • What are the most significant causes of delay?
  • Which inspection errors occur most frequently?
  • How resilient is the chain to external forces? How can we prepare?
  • What hidden inefficiencies can we find and correct?
  • Can any steps be eliminated?
  • What are the biggest opportunities for additional supply chain profits?
  • How can we best protect margin when demand falls?

Outcomes: Streamline logistics, optimize predictive planning, eliminate hidden costs, achieve big-picture profitability.

Business Strategy

  • How can we reduce expenses by 10%?
  • How can we leverage our analytics project to produce the most significant impact?
  • How do we best combine innovation with performance sustainability?
  • What are our biggest value-creation drivers?
  • What are our five biggest areas for improvement?
  • What are the biggest threats to growth and scalability?
  • What should be our #1 focus right now? Next quarter? Next year?

Outcomes: Evidence-based strategy insights, easier stakeholder buy-in, clear business direction, confident decision-making, faster growth.

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These 30 questions should give you an idea of the vast possibilities available to you with data analytics.

And this just scratches the surface – you can ask questions about particular products, specific marketing initiatives, your competitors…you name it.

In fact, we have yet to come across a client question that data can’t answer. So go ahead and get creative!

What are the top 5 business questions data can answer for you? And how would that knowledge change your decision making?

Get in touch to let us know. We’ll tell you exactly what kind of data you need, and how to use it to find the answers.