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Automate or die!

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Automate or die! That’s a bit extreme isn’t it?

One of the major problems for business these days is that there is just so much information available to you, it is very easy to become swamped by it, so you often can’t see if there’s an issue to address.

Volume is a headache with managing ecommerce product databases too, especially if you are setting up a new store or adding a fresh range. In both cases l have developed automated systems that have saved money and improved my focus.

How do we make sense of all these statistics?  

We all know that every website owner should be using Google Analytics for their basic user stats, but to go into that system cold is quite terrifying. After a quick poke round thinking this is fascinating and what great information, the reality strikes: what does it all mean? What do I need to do first? Then you wonder off and don’t look again for another month or two. Or worse, you are distracted from your core work down a blind alley and your business can suffer because of this.

I recently paid Hitwise for access to its information on our business sector: it takes server logs from about 40% of the ISPs in the UK and presents customer activity to its subscribers. This is priceless information, but expensive and there’s lots and lots of it! To be fair Hitwise have been chasing me for years, but I was just scared at the vastness of the data available. However I’ve just employed a new member of staff who has statistical analysis skills.

I now see it is imperative that we automate the routine data extraction and presentation from Google Analytics and Hitwise (and any other source of useful data that is available to us), and present the analysis in a format that is useful, understandable and actionable. For instance if you know how many people are visiting a certain page on your website, but you are not receiving any orders from it, you can have a look at the pricing or layout and adjust it to see if that will make a difference.

Data entry

Another area where my business is benefiting from automation is data entry. We have just taken on a new supplier and this has given us the opportunity of diversifying into selling different products. The big issue for me here is do I take on some temporary staff to input data manually, or do my IT team spend a couple of weeks automating the import of the information? It’s a no-brainer really, as once the automation has been done we can repeat the process as many times as we want.  

So there it is - wherever you can do it automate or die!

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