The digital age allows us to work on real information where we previously had to rely on estimation, experience and sometimes pure gut instinct.
As Gartner Research senior vice-president Peter Sondergaard said: "Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine."
But the trick for a regionally based business is to know what information you need in your area, how to get it, what you can rely on, and what to do with it once you've got it.
There is no point in gathering customer data or figures on digital engagement if it does not lead to something useful - and preferably profitable.
Here's our top 5 tips for turning your business data into profit:
1. Know your business
Understand what drives your business success. You know it better than anyone. Measure it.
Choose a tool that gives you a dashboard with a one-page strategic snapshot of what's happening in your business.
2. Know what you know
What data do you already have?
Vital information may be close to hand. All you need is a way to put it into a useful format to help you improve your service, sales or customer retention - simple information like your customers' purchase history for follow-ups or personalised deals.
3. Know your customers
Gathering and using information on your customers' relationship with your business isn't creepy - it's about finding ways to serve them better.
Make sure whatever system you use will talk with the tools you use for marketing and communication - including mobile devices.
4. Get personal with them
Use your CRM to personalise online campaigns or even communications. For example, there are hard figures showing that emails starting with "Dear Chrissie" are more likely to be opened. (As long as the recipient is named Chrissie. Accurate data is important.)
Or you could just wish a customer a happy birthday. People like that.
5. Get social with them
Social media is where people live, chat and share ideas. It's more than a water cooler, it's a marketplace. You need to be there.
But don't just use it as a platform for advertising and promotion. Play to its strengths: Find out what customers think about your product or plans.
Brace yourself for possible criticism, but don't be afraid to engage positively. There is nothing more valuable than knowing what a customer wants.
Where to get free help and advice
Your local Telstra Business Centre and this newspaper have assembled a panel of technology experts to update local business owners on how they can harness the power of new technology to help drive your business.
To have breakfast on us and hear from the experts while networking with local peers, register on the links below.