As a business owner or manager you likely need to make small decisions on a regular basis, and have likely gotten good at making them. There has also likely been a time when you have had to make a big decision that had a big impact on your business. This can involve a challenging process and is one reason why many businesses are turning to Business Intelligence (BI). While BI is popular, there is a new sector that is gaining business fans: Big Data.
You’ve likely seen or heard the term Big Data, but do you know what it is? Here is a simple definition, along with some examples and ways businesses can use it.
Define: Big Data If you search for definitions of Big Data, you will likely come across something along the lines of: Big Data is data that focuses on harnessing and using new forms of unstructured data that move into or through a business with high volume, velocity and complexity.
But what exactly does this mean? Well, many find this definition vague, at best. We found a definition, an equation in fact, that better explains Big Data: Big Data = Transactions + Interactions + Observations
Transactions This is highly structured data related to events. It always includes: Time, a numerical value and refers to an objective, or objectives. Examples of this include, invoices, travel plans, activity records, payments, etc. The vast majority of this information is stored in databases and can be accessed quickly and easily, usually through SQL (Structured Query Language).
Interactions This covers how people interact with one another, or with your business. This includes interactions such as Facebook posts and Likes, social feeds, generated content and even blogs. Basically, this encompasses any data you can collect through any type of interaction that this isn’t limited to business transactions. Many experts expect this part of Big Data to really take off and become more valuable as social networks become ever more integrated with our lives and the corporate world.
Observations This is information gathered from the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is associated with unique, individual things that have a virtual component that can be observed, and are connected in an Internet-like structure. Some examples of this include GPS coordinates from a person that visits your website on their mobile phone, or RFID chips in ATM cards. This data can be stored and potentially used to make better, more informed decisions.
When you combine these three things together, along with the data associated with it, you get Big Data.
Some sources of Big Data Here are just a few of sources of Big Data:
Ways business can use Big Data There are numerous ways small to medium sized businesses can employ Big Data:
There are many uses of Big Data, and as the world continues to generate more and more data, it will become increasingly important to employ Big Data techniques in your business. If you are looking to learn more about this topic, or any other part of Business Intelligence, please contact us today.
A popular trend related to data is the increasing use of infographics and visualization. While it is true that a visual representation of data can be helpful, it doesn’t mean that every bit of data collected needs to be represented visually or turned into an infographic. So, when exactly should data be visualized?
In order to know when data visualization should be used, it’s a good idea to start with why we even use it at all, and what makes it work.
Why visualize data The whole point of taking data and turning it into more understandable information is so that we can utilize it to make a decision or take action from what we learn. Data visualization is just another way of turning data that we can’t read or understand and turning it into something that we can see and use. In other words, creating information with visible insights.
In general there are three reasons why you might want to visualize data:
What makes a good data visualization There are three main aspects of information that make up good effective data visualizations:
If the visualization fails to meet any one of these three aspects, you will end up with an outcome that doesn’t provide value and will likely be ignored or viewed with skepticism. In this case it is probably not worthwhile trying to visualize it. If you would like to know more about how you can visualize data, or how you can harness the data in your organization, contact us today to see how we can help.
The amount of data available to a business is exponentially increasing, and many are starting to realize that they can harness this for help making decisions, predicting trends and outcomes of other business initiatives. This capture and analysis of data is commonly referred to as Business Intelligence (BI) can be incredibly useful, however it isn’t easy, many businesses make mistakes that could be costly.
Here are four of the most common mistakes businesses make with their Business Intelligence efforts.
1. Not involving all stakeholders When developing BI initiatives, companies will often forget to talk to all of the stakeholders who are involved in, or affected by, the initiative. You should take steps to consult with the parties and end users involved. Get to know their problems, desires, and what they plan to do with the data and information gained.
Once you know what the users need, you can look into developing and implementing the tools that will get the desired result. It is especially important to involve the people who will be implementing BI tools as they may have insight into what is needed, or how existing systems will fit/work with the intended systems.
2. Unclear goals As with almost everything else in business, you need to have a set goal as to what you want to achieve with the project, tool, initiative you are implementing. If you don’t know what you want your BI to do, how it is to be presented or even why, you will likely run into problems that could lead to the wrong decisions being made, or even lost profits.
It would therefore be a good idea to sit down with the teams and stakeholders to see what they want, and set goals as a group. Then look for a solution that will meet these needs and goals.
3. Using the wrong tools Just because other companies have implemented BI, or a specific tool, and have had success, doesn’t mean you will. Some companies have done excellent work getting buy-in from all teams and user needs and goals are clearly defined, but when they start looking for tools, settle for something that is merely good enough.
This will hurt them because the tool may be missing key features that parties want. Also, like everything else in business, BI will change over time and if your company’s goals change and the tools can’t keep up with it or support it, you could be looking at costly changes, or inefficient decision making support.
4. Team members lack skills Technology is always changing and companies are always implementing new systems. Because BI is tool based, you will have to add new technology, and guaranteed the users won’t know all of the ins and outs. Therefore, they will need to be trained on how to use them.
If the users don’t know how to use the tools, data could be collected inefficiently, the wrong data may be collected and analyzed or the wrong outputs could be produced. What this means is ultimately lost profits for you.
These are the common mistakes made by business in regards to their BI. If you are looking for a solution that will help ensure that you avoid these mistakes and get the data and answers you need, contact us today to see if we have the right one for you.
The path to running a successful business starts with making the right decisions. This can be a challenge for many business owners, largely because nobody can see what the future holds. This is why Business Intelligence (BI) has become so popular; it helps us make better decisions. One form of BI is visualization – taking data and turning it into something visual we can use. While this can be useful, there is a chance that it can lead to data being misrepresented and the wrong decisions being made.
Here are four tips on how to make successful data visualizations – e.g., charts, graphs, flowcharts, etc.
1. They need to be easy to understand When visualizing data, it can be very easy to make the outcome incredibly confusing. By having too many sets of data, trying to compare and visualize too much, or by simply laying information out in a confusing way, you could actually decrease the effectiveness of the message you are trying to convey or lose it altogether.
When creating visualizations, try to get someone who is part of your target audience to look over it and make sure they can understand what the visualization is representing and that it is easy to comprehend. If they can’t, you need to go back to the drawing board and try to come up with a way to present the data where the intended audience can understand and follow it easily.
2. They need to cater to the audience The main reason most managers or owners visualize data is to present it to an audience. 99% of the time, this audience is a decision maker and you are trying to get them to decide on whatever the data visualization is representing.
Therefore, when setting out to visualize your data you should first define an end goal – what you want the audience to do with the data. In order to do this, and to develop a successful visualization, try considering these three questions:
3. They need to have a clear framework or layout When visualizing data you need to ensure that you develop a layout or framework that is clear and easy to follow. This means focusing on two main areas:
Above all – They need to tell a story The most successful visualizations tell a story about the data. Unlike TV or movies, you aren’t telling a story for pure entertainment. The story should be related to how the audience will be affected or can be helped by the data represented in the visuals. If you are struggling to find a way to tell a story, try actually explaining the data. By knowing it inside and out, you will likely be better able to come up with an explanation that you may be able to weave into a fluid story for your audience.
If you are looking into visualizing your data, or improving how you present it, why not contact us to see how our systems can help.
Growing up we are constantly told that predicting the future is at best mere guess work, and there is no real way to tell what our future may hold. While this may be the case for much of life, in business there are ways to make accurate forecasts. One option at your disposal to be able to do this is predictive analytics.
Before looking at why businesses might want to implement this type of analytics into their operations, it’s worthwhile defining what exactly predictive analytics is. Simply put, predictive analytics is a form of business intelligence that focuses on combing existing information for patterns and useful data that can then be used to make predictions on future outcomes or to identify trends.
It is important to stress that this form of analytics does not tell you what is going to happen. Instead, it is used to figure out what might happen. Think of it as similar to a weather forecast for your business – meteorologists can never tell you what the weather will be like over the next week, they merely use the data they have at their disposal to forecast what the outlook is likely to be in the next few days.
The vast majority of companies who apply these analytics to their business often do so to gain a better understanding of their customers, partners, and other stakeholders. From this they can better identify possible risks and opportunities.
These are just a few of the reasons businesses use predictive analytics in their companies. If you are curious to learn more about how to create success for your business and the technology systems that support and allow you to utilize predictive analytics, contact us today for a chat.
Business Intelligence (BI) is hardly a new concept for small business owners, with a growing percentage of business owners utilizing it in their business. But even so, there are a great many misconceptions that still proliferate about the theories and technology behind it and people often don’t realize how they can benefit from incorporating a little BI into their operations.
But many of these misconceptions are easily clarified and addressed. See how by taking a look at these tips.
One of the things that make business intelligence sound intimidating is the notion that businesses will be bombarded with daily reports and have to make use of complicated dashboards in order help to understand how it works and get it operational. While there are standard tools that small businesses will need to use to gather information that will help with their operations, these tools should not be seen as an inconvenience. The systems and processes in BI can be simplified in a way that it doesn’t limit resource gathering but actually enhances efficiency and profitability.
An executive, for instance, can easily look into the sales numbers of a given month, without having to go over other variables and metrics. Other models of BI can cater to more than just reporting stats and data, as analysis can be collaborative and interactive, thus providing more efficient solutions that will deliver the correct information to the people who rely on the data for their decision-making.
The assumption is that whether a company is big or small, the tools in business intelligence work the same. This is what makes small businesses hesitant to apply such concepts, thinking that it will not have any practical use in an organization of their size.
But the truth is, every BI strategy is unique, and as a company, you can tailor these strategies to fit in with the way you operate. Before adopting any solution, however, you will first have to evaluate what specific needs BI must address using the data architecture, so that it will measure your requirements correctly.
Large corporations can maximize the tools to use in BI because they have larger needs to fill, and they also have all the resources. But what about small companies that may not necessarily need big data?
The thing is, any company that has data will have a use for business intelligence. Small businesses can start with simple and basic solutions, for instance Google Analytics, and then later on, expand to a more comprehensive tool as the organization grows. Business intelligence measures the quality of data, and not the quantity, so you can accomplish something even with very few resources.
While BI used to be considered the responsibility of an IT team or expert, now small businesses, which may not have had the resources to in the past to outsource such resources, can use the tools for themselves. There are solutions out there that offer low maintenance, self-service systems wherein reports and dashboards are created and analyzed without the need for an IT expert whatsoever. There are some advantages to having professional IT help sometimes though, but for small businesses, a user-friendly BI system may be sufficient to cover most of your needs. If you’d like to know about how you might be able to develop your business intelligence systems further. Consult a reputable IT services provider now.
Business Intelligence, or BI, refers to the processes and systems involved in the collection of business information for analysis to determine the past and current status of your company. It serves to give a better insight into what is about to transpire. Many companies from different industries use BI tools in their business, but the question is how can different departments use them?
There are various BI tools available nowadays that support small to large companies. You can find Business Intelligence tools that fit your company’s size, needs and budget. These applications can be used in different areas of the business:
A marketing department is responsible for promoting a company’s products, services and brand to increase public awareness. With successful marketing, a business can attract potential clients that can be possibly turned into creating sales revenue. The company can use BI to determine which campaigns are successful or not, as the case may be. Through this, investments can be focused on those campaigns that work whilst avoiding those that have previously failed.
Sales managers and supervisors can also use BI to analyze successful deals, as well as those that they have lost, to see what strategies have worked. The system can also help determine which sales teams hit or exceed set goals in order to analyze what they are doing right. Moreover, this helps determine which products or services are most saleable so these can be pushed further to attain more goals.
BI software makes analyzing, reporting, and managing financial data more convenient. Those who are involved in the process can easily access the information they need through the system. Analysis is easier as the data is organized and accurate. Money in and money out can also be tracked with greater efficiency.
Moreover, these tools often come with features that allow users to create scenarios and determine the possible results from there. This is extremely helpful in deciding on the best action to take as the tool gives you a view of the probable outcome. The success rate is higher if forecasting using a BI tool.
Business Intelligence also plays a vital role in inventory tracking of products, items or supplies. For instance, companies in the retail industry can track the movement of products or items from the suppliers to the warehouse and on to their delivery to clients. Any problems encountered in the process can be quickly identified so they can be fixed in time.
Items in demand can also be pinpointed, as well as low stock and overstocks. Items that are low in stock can be ordered immediately, especially if they are in demand, to ensure that the needs of clients are met. This also lets you avoid overstocking, which can be a waste of money when investment is better used for fast moving items.
These are just some of the ways businesses can use BI in their operations. If you have further questions about the topic, do not hesitate to give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist you.
Business Intelligence (BI) has become an essential function of many businesses. Those who employ some form of BI often see increased sales, or at the very least the ability to make quicker informed decisions more often. When looking into BI solutions however, you will likely come across a number of terms that may be a little confusing. Three of these somewhat puzzling terms relate to data – data mart, data warehouse and data mining.
The concept of a data warehouse is an interesting one and also a difficult one to define and pin down largely because it can cover such a broad area. The most concise definition we can give is that it is a database that integrates data from many different locations and databases into one consolidated database.
Data warehouses store both current and historical data, and rarely contain unique data. Instead, they aggregate data from other sources in order to make this more accessible. They might store important information from sales, marketing, ERP, customer interactions, and any form of database in order to quickly generate BI related reports.
The name undoubtedly conjures up the idea of a large warehouse-like building storing infinite amounts of data. However, most data warehouses are actually tables which are created by taking data from various sources and cleaning it up so that relevant data is stored in the warehouse in a way that makes it easier to reach when needed.
A data mart is a smaller data warehouse that stores data. These are based on a specific area or business function e.g., finance or marketing, etc. In fact, most modern data warehouses are actually made up of a series of smaller data marts.
The key difference between a data mart and a data warehouse is that data marts are usually smaller, focusing on one specific area, while a data warehouse covers the whole organization.
When talking about Business Intelligence, many experts will refer to data mining. This is the act of analyzing data in order to identify patterns. The data that is mined can then be transformed into useable information. Many companies store this mined data in databases, a data warehouse, or a data mart. Want to learn more about these terms and how your company can benefit from a BI solution? Contact us today.
It seems like over the past five years or so, understanding, processing and leveraging of data has become one of the most important parts of a business. When reading about data you often come across the term ‘business analytics’. Despite this terms common usage many people are confused as to what exactly it is and where exactly it fits into business processes.
In this article we will take a brief look at business analytics and why it is so important to businesses of all sizes.
When experts talk about analytics most audiences will agree that it is the analysis of data and statistics. The vast majority of business owners have some experience with analytics, with some having even taken courses on it at University. This being said, the idea of business analytics is often hard to pin down – ask 10 people and you will likely get 10 different answers defining what exactly it is.
We like to define business analytics as a process rather than a science. This process uses skills, business experience, technology, applications, and common business practices, to enable business owners, managers, and employees to explore past performance. Simply put, it’s the study of the past performance of a business.
With most businesses, the goal of business analytics is to gain insights into the state of the company, and even drive future decisions based on existing data. If you can successfully implement a business analytics process, you and your employees will gain a higher understanding of your business which will lead to better decision making abilities and even higher growth and profits.
As we noted above, this is a process that involves a number of separate components. Four to be exact:
The main reason businesses implement the components of business analytics is so that they have a way to not only harness the data their business generates, but to also leverage it in a constructive way so that their business can make better decisions. If used properly, it really helps businesses answer two of the hardest questions to answer: “What do I need to know?” and “What do I need to do?”
If you are looking to learn more about using business analytics or the components that make up this process, contact us today to see how our solutions can help.
In 2013, Business Intelligence – transforming data into useful information that can be used by managers to make decisions – has become a popular process used by businesses to make better decisions. Because this has become such a popular and important business function, you can bet that you will continue to hear about it in 2014. The only question is what exactly will be the latest developments this year?
Here is an overview of the potential Business Intelligence (BI) trends we could see emerging and growing in 2014.
Historically, to get the most out of Business Intelligence you need to be experienced or to employ a data scientist. Over the past couple of years BI methodologies have become easier to execute. Throughout 2014 it is highly likely that we will see most ordinary business users continue to gain skills in this area and consequently carrying out business analysis and BI activities.
This means we should see an increase in the number of programs that are user-friendly, while still providing the powerful tools that experts have been using.
Cloud-based solutions have helped allow small to medium businesses to access tools that were previously only used by enterprises. Many BI solutions are starting to incorporate cloud-based versions and this trend will undoubtedly continue in 2014.
These solutions will put important data in the hands of individual businesses, while also providing them with the ability to store and analyze their data with ease, as long as they have an Internet connection. Many of these solutions also allow for increased collaboration and some even have mobile apps which could help make adoption easier.
Predictive analytics is the process of looking at existing data for trends and important information that you can use to help make predictions and decisions. This type of analysis has largely been the domain of experts and large companies, but in 2014 this process should become increasingly available to small businesses.
The majority of customers are active on social media. This has led to a huge source of potential information that businesses can benefit from. From Likes to Shares, Comments, etc., companies will begin to pay closer attention to this data. It can help businesses gain insight into brand awareness, how relevant they are to customers, and even gain important information they can use to conduct competitive analysis.
One of the main objectives of analyzing your data is so that you can tell a story with it. If you have no narrative arc attached to your data, it is highly likely that the message you want to get across won’t sink in.
By visualizing your data in a way so that it tells a story you will be better able to gain a concise meaning from an overwhelming amount of data
If you are looking to learn more about BI and how it can help your business, please contact us today.