Using data for competitive advantage

A key capability for organisations in the digital economy is the effective use of data. Even today, most companies have massive amounts of data at their disposal, yet fail to utilise it in meaningful ways. With the correct tools, techniques and skills, organisations can successfully harness their data to make much better decisions and to improve processes.

To successfully harness the power of data you must be able to effectively:

  • Capture data
  • Convert data into a usable format
  • Store data
  • Analyse data
  • Use the analysis in your business

Doing all five better than your competitors will provide you with a major competitive advantage. As high-speed broadband becomes ubiquitous every person, every piece of machinery and every device will be capable of  transmitting data, at any time and from anywhere. No matter what industry you are in, you will be able to collect data on everything, including your customers, your products and services, your logistics, and your people.  You need to ask yourself, how are you going to use data to get an edge on your competition?

What type of data is available to me?

Chances are you are already have lots of data available. Here are some good places for small businesses to get started.

  1. Customer and sales data. Do you have good data on who your customers are and what they’ve bought. See the video below on RFM analysis, to see how that might be used. Here is a blog from Microsoft in the US with 7 steps for using your customer data:
  2. The Australian Bureau of Statistics. The ABS has a range of publications containing data specifically catering to the needs of small business owners.
  3. Google Analytics provides you with an enormous amount of data on who has visited your website and web platforms.
  4. Internal data. What data do you collect on your internal processes? This data can help you become more efficient.
  5. provides access to NSW government datasets to all. The main purpose of the site is to encourage public access to and reuse of government data by providing it in useful formats and under open licences. The aim is to encourage the private sector to build useful services and apps using public data.


Video on RFM Analysis: