Integrating external data for robust decision-making

Subhashis Manna
Subhashis Manna
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In the fast-paced business world, the ability to make informed decisions is a crucial factor that can determine the success or failure of any organisation. In recent years, the decision-making landscape has evolved by integrating external data with in-house data. External data, comprising various sources such as social media data, bureau data, and third-party information, has become a valuable asset for organisations aiming to enhance their decision-making processes.

Understanding external data:

In its broadest sense, external data refers to information sourced from outside an organisation’s internal databases. It can be classified into three primary types: open data, paid data, and shared data. Open data is publicly accessible information, paid data involves purchasing data from external sources, and shared data represents information exchanged between organisations. The judicious use of these data types allows companies to comprehensively understand their operating environment, know their customers and suppliers well, and be aware of the market and trends, thereby fostering better decision-making.

Key types of external data utilised by companies:

Social media data:

Social media platforms have evolved into dynamic information hubs, offering a goldmine of data for businesses. Companies tap into this resource to analyse user interactions, sentiments, and trends across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. By deciphering this data, businesses can gain insights into public opinion, improve customer engagement, and refine marketing strategies besides knowing their customers better.

Hyperscalers like Google, Amazon, and Facebook:

Tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook provide data services that offer valuable insights. These platforms collect and analyse vast amounts of user data, allowing businesses to access useful information related to market trends, user behaviour, and emerging opportunities. Leveraging these hyperscalers empowers companies to make data-driven decisions in market research, latest trends, and product development.

Data brokers:

Data brokers are crucial in aggregating and selling data from various sources. This includes information on consumer behaviour, demographics, and purchasing patterns. By leveraging data broker services, companies gain access to diverse datasets, enabling more targeted marketing strategies and informed decision-making.

Third-party information on industry trends:

External reports, studies, and analyses conducted by third-party entities offer valuable insights into industry trends that may affect the business plans of competitor firms. Companies utilise this information to stay abreast of market dynamics, competitor strategies, and emerging opportunities. Incorporating third-party insights into decision-making processes enhances businesses’ overall strategic approach.

Bureau data:

Bureau data, such as credit reports and financial information, provides a comprehensive view of an individual or company’s financial health. Businesses leverage this data for risk assessment, credit scoring, and decision-making related to partnerships and investments. Using bureau data is particularly vital in industries where risk management is critical to operations.

Key benefits of using external data:

Business plan support:

External data serves as a foundation for strategic planning by offering real-time insights into market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitive landscapes. This allows organisations to align their long-term goals with current market dynamics, ensuring a more strategic and forward-looking approach.

Competitor insights:

Benchmarking performance against competitors is a key advantage of external data usage. By understanding market trends, consumer preferences, and competitor strategies, businesses can identify areas for improvement and gain a competitive edge. This comparative analysis facilitates more informed decision-making in a competitive market environment.

Internal analysis:

External data enhances the depth and accuracy of company analyses and planning. Businesses can comprehensively assess their internal processes, market positioning, and overall performance by incorporating information from various sources. This thorough analysis is instrumental in identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to act accordingly.

Risk mitigation:

Utilising bureau data and other external sources aids in assessing and mitigating risks associated with financial transactions, partnerships, and investments. This is particularly crucial for industries where risk management is pivotal, such as banking, finance, insurance, etc. The ability to make data-driven risk assessments enhances decision-making accuracy and reduces potential financial pitfalls.

Enhanced customer engagement:

Social media data is a powerful tool for understanding customer sentiments, preferences, and feedback. By analysing this data, companies can tailor their marketing strategies, improve product offerings, and enhance overall customer satisfaction. The personalised approach driven by external data leads to stronger customer relationships and increased brand loyalty.

Informed decision-making:

The overarching benefit of leveraging external data is making well-informed decisions. By basing decisions on a comprehensive understanding of the external environment, companies minimise uncertainty and increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. Informed decision-making is a cornerstone for success in today’s competitive and rapidly evolving business landscape.


In conclusion, integrating external data into decision-making processes has become imperative for organisations striving to thrive in the modern business landscape. The diverse types of external data, from social media insights to bureau data, offer a treasure trove of information to drive strategic planning, foster competition comparison, and facilitate thorough analysis and strategy design. The key benefits, including improved risk mitigation, enhanced customer engagement, and the ability to make informed decisions, underscore external data’s transformative impact on business strategies. As companies continue to embrace the era of data-driven decision-making, effectively utilising external data (both structured and unstructured) remains a cornerstone for robust, adaptive, and successful business strategies.

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