Technology has had a tremendous effect on the way we do business in the last few years, and it only seems to be accelerating with every passing day. Along with this rapid technological advancement has come its by-product—data. Lots and lots of data is generated every day through technology and now companies and organizations are looking at how this data can be analyzed to identify trends, issues, insights and more.
“Big data is here, and it’s offering tremendous value to companies when it comes to business intelligence,” says Collin Pullar, president of the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association. “For large companies, it’s easy to assign resources for data analysis. But what about smaller organizations?”
Big and small
As of 2020, Saskatchewan was home to 146,016 small businesses. With 124 small businesses for every 1,000 people in the province, we have the second highest per capita rate of small businesses in Canada. These figures align with the Saskatchewan construction industry, where most companies are small businesses with four to five employees. Only the top five per cent of construction companies in Saskatchewan have more than 10 employees. How can these smaller companies take advantage of what data can offer them?
Pullar says it can start with using the resources you already have. “Your own websites and social media can provide data about who is visiting you online, where they are from, and what they want to know about you,” he says. “Google Analytics alone can provide valuable information for marketing and business development.”
A company’s own data—such as payroll, sick leave, insurance claims and safety records—can also yield insights when they are analyzed together. Looking at the data set as a whole—such as seeing when safety incidents occurred in conjunction with new hires—can lead to identifying issues like the need for better onboarding.
“When you take a look at your data from a holistic perspective, you can find things you may not have otherwise discovered,” says Pullar. “An audit might be a big job, but it can pay off in terms of learning about your organization and what you can do better.”
Associations can also play a role in helping with data and learning from it. “The SCSA has seen the value data can provide from a safety perspective,” says Pullar. “We have aggregated a lot of data from our member companies to examine historic and current trends. We put together easy-to-use dashboards in our SCSA Analytics tool that members can use to make better-informed decisions about their safety practices.” The combination of a company’s own information, plus data about the entire industry, can also help find problems and solutions. When you can see how you compare to others in your industry, that is a learning opportunity. Insights from others can show you where you are now, and where you need to go.
“The future of data is here, and it’s here to stay. We’re here to help your organization learn and make the right decisions,” says Pullar. “The question now is: do you want to be leading, or lagging?”