Tag Archives: Analytics Best Practices

Using Big Data to Predict Employee Patterns

Big data can be an invaluable asset when reviewed to assess consumer trends. The same tools can also be used in conjunction with employees. Now, business owners and managers are applying data analysis behind the scenes, making informed decisions with regards to hiring new talent and maintaining the needs and expectations of the active workforce.

Prospective Employees
The same traits that can be pulled from consumer pattern analysis also come in handy during the hiring process. In an article written for USA Today, Battery Ventures investment firm partner Roger Lee emphasized the importance of hiring managers understanding the type of employee the company is looking for. Lee expressed the benefits of paying attention to social media usage patterns to determine when ideal candidates may be available for hire. An increase in a candidate's time spent on Facebook and Twitter could suggest unemployment. Lee added that businesses should collect data during the interview process to cross-examine with hiring goals.

Big data can also be used to eliminate preconceived notions that may arise from simply viewing a candidate's resume. Heather Huhman, a contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, wrote that a candidate with a scattered work history may turn off potential recruiters at first glance, but that this information can be misleading. Infrequency on a resume could be a sign of bad workplace practices. but data analysis can reveal external economic factors and a low demand for an individual's skill set have hindered long-term employment, not necessarily an issue with the prospective hire's attitude or performance.

Current Employees
Several companies have been using prediction algorithms to help with crew retention. Bloomberg reporter Jack Clark has been studying these data uses for some time, and he noted that business intelligence systems learn about an enterprise and its employees over time to make educated predictions. Based on a company's history of hiring and firing practices, staff salaries, promotions and relocations fused with economic factors such as the estimated cost of living for a particular area, business intelligence software can determine the levels of workforce satisfaction. This data is then developed to create surprisingly accurate predictions of which employees may be ready to say goodbye.

Nicole Fallon, assistant editor of Business News Daily, explained that allowing employees to be aware of their own progress in the face of sales goals and company policies can be a motivational tool. Non-management staff enjoy the experience of being in the discussion of what succeeds and what does not – staff members learn about more than just their own position and gain a respect for the business as a whole this way. Enterprises need to ensure all crew members understand how systems and software operate so that personal goals and expectations can be monitored by both employees and supervising staff effectively.

Accepting and Understanding Consumer Complaints Can Save Business

Consumers can make or break any business. One good experience may bring customers back, but one bad experience can start a chain reaction that can result in a collapse of business all around. That is why customer relationship management is one of the most crucial aspects of daily operations.

A Dangerous Game 
Take fast food giant McDonald's, for example. Some may argue the company is too big to fail, but that doesn't make it too big to be affected by negative reviews. Anything from the standard customer complaint of cold food to large lawsuits involving potentially larger settlements is bad for business. Word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising, but if the consumer turns on the producer, that word of mouth can be the very factor that drives sales into the ground. Ideally, employers could simply instill in their employees the necessity to stay on top of problems with CRM by remaining aware of what the consumer expects and how best to handle a situation where those expectations are not met.

Staying vigilant about consumer issues does not guarantee business will continue without incident. One obstacle facing McDonald's now, as well as a partner in glass making, involves a woman who cut herself washing a promotional glass. A predicament such as this can not only result in a loss of consumers but also a severed working relationship between two entities to deliver a product.

What Can Be Done?
The best method for understanding what consumers see as problems with any business is also the most obvious – being open and available to receive feedback. Customer complaint reports can be vital in identifying issues with everyday procedures, disruptive employees or potential disasters. Compiled in a business intelligence software such as Necto 14, emerging trends can act as red flags indicating problems that need attention. For large corporations like McDonald's, consumer voices can be heard through all of the noise by readily available complaint forms or phone lines. Even if a customer approaches someone in management directly to voice his or her concerns, an account of the incident must be made. The more detailed the process of investigating consumer reports, the more information that can be taken away from one individual and the better your data discovery will be. 

While McDonald's may not be able to satisfy one incident in which the customer feels wronged, the corporation can prevent this complication from escalating further. Staying vigilant through well-structured CRM, problem identification and action backed by data analysis software is most beneficial. While there is no truly perfect plan for avoiding CRM complaints, it can prevent repetitive issues in one area or the upsurge of a particular dilemma.

How Soon Should Small Businesses Start Worrying About Big Data?

You've started your small business and things are going well. You're in the black, your customer base is growing, and you're ready to expand your company with new avenues for income and additional employees. Up until now, all of your data was pretty easy to manage on your standard text and spreadsheet software. So when is it time to start looking into business intelligence software? The answer is now.

Caught Unprepared
Moving forward, you hire an additional 20 percent of employees, and open up a new office or business front. Now your data is coming from more people, from different sources, all at once. Try as you might, keeping track of every transaction personally is a matter of impossibility for any successful enterprise. Before long, you find yourself further behind on your data analysis than you could ever have hoped not to be. Your books become out of date, and often times entries begin slipping through the cracks until even an up-to-date log of transactions can be tremendously flawed. Business advisory firm Synnovatia identified this struggle as one of the many signs that your establishment is in trouble altogether.

Losing control of your organization because things picked up faster than you were prepared for could mark the beginning of the end, no matter how well things may appear on the surface of a positive net income. "Lots of new business owners put their bookkeeping to one side because they're so busy with the huge work load of setting up a business," tells Lee Murphy, Managing Editor of The Accountancy Partnership. His firm has been helping companies with bookkeeping and filing taxes since 2006. "That's understandable, but if the books aren't organized, troubling times lie ahead."

How do you get out in front of the large amount of information heading your way? The solution is clear – be ready for it before it comes, regardless of how small your business may be now.

Being Prepared
The key to any successful venture is thinking long term. You may only be handling 100 customers today, but is that going to be your business model forever? In all likelihood, you're going to see an increase in clients as your enterprise remains open, satisfies consumers and draws more attention through advertising and word of mouth.

Software like Necto 14 can compile condensed, simplified synopses and graphics from all of your company data, across multiple outlets, all in one convenient location that can be viewed anywhere. Tracking anything from what is selling and what isn't, where your most successful markets are and various trends within your business' big data, your BI solution has never been easier. Graphs and workboards make understanding your business needs much simpler, allowing you to focus on where improvements need to be made or giving way to the freedom of evolving further in your market. Keeping data neatly organized and readily available is a process that can be started at any time, but it is always better to begin sooner rather than later.

Mobile Business Intelligence Shows Its Requirements, Potential

One of the most striking details of business intelligence evolution over the past decade has been its ability to add other great concepts to the fold. From the cloud to the democratization of software use, every avenue has been explored in an attempt to get insights to their recipients more quickly. One such exciting feature has been the integration of mobile access. Now, users who are away from their desks have a view of  the latest numbers in the form of efficient and powerful dashboards. This technology is not quite mainstream yet, but the sense is that there are big things in the pipeline.

Demand for Mobility
A recent Enterprise Apps Today piece used data from a few different surveys to determine what the climate is regarding mobile BI adoption. Whereas BARC's Carsten Bange cautioned that the traction for mobility is not there yet, a Dresner Advisory Services study found there was an uptick of interest in the solutions in 2014. The source reported that Dresner detected slightly reduced valuations of mobility in 2013, but that the blip didn't last. More than just going back to old levels, professionals' assessments of mobile BI were more positive in 2014 than in years past. These potential users seem to be discovering what mobility can do for them.

Business leaders who are better prepared for mobile BI use could find themselves with better results. According to Enterprise Apps Today, Dresner found organizations have begun to make informed decisions about the shapes their BI plans will assume. With this level of understanding, acquired over time, it should prove possible for firms to integrate mobility into their analytics strategies. In fact, Dresner reported that BI has become the second most important type of mobile app for businesses as of the latest survey. Only email access was rated more vital.

Freedom to Travel
Today's BI applications have begun to catch up with the interest in taking analytics on the go. Necto 14, for instance, sports a browser-based mobile version. Since all it takes is a browser to boot up this interface, iOS, Android and Windows devices can all gather insights. This is important in a technological climate that is split between the major operating systems and is unlikely to consolidate any time soon. Equipped with Necto's suite of security features, the mobile version is a huge help for an employee who wants or needs to be away from his or her desk. The demand for responsive mobile BI is being met through such solutions.

BI Development Still Ongoing

The march of progress is present in the types of business intelligence software deployed in workplaces around the world. This makes sense: Companies today define themselves by their IT footprints, and BI remains relevant no matter the industry or subject matter. Therefore, it's natural that analytics programs will receive close attention and a selection of great features. Organizations are filling their decision-making processes with an infusion of data, a move that seems to have made it impossible to go back to making choices via intuition – after all, if rival companies have a direct line to their data, firms without such access could be in trouble.

The Current Wave and the Next
There are many different trends flowing through the BI ecosystem at any time. Its evolution is not a one-sided process, nor is it one that can be completed all at once. IT Business Edge contacted one of its industry partners to determine where the feature development timeline is now and where it will be later in 2015. The source noted 2014 had its own share of futuristic upgrades, focusing on granting capabilities such as mobile BI access and the use of big data sets instead of the structured groupings that have traditionally held that role. Of course, time's march has made those elements a part of the milieu and brought a new crop to the fore.

As for the year at hand, the content displayed on dashboards may be set to shift. IT Business Edge reported that specialization and simplicity are on tap in the way data is displayed visually. Dashboards present representations of abstract numbers that make them immediately accessible and useful for the employees who need to act on the conveyed information. The source noted that any sort of general dashboard containing every metric needed by anyone in the company will be too complex, bordering on unreadable. A series of dashboards that each target a specific role can give better insights.

The Future is Here
While customized and well-designed dashboards are being presented as this year's new trend, they have already arrived. Necto 14, for instance, allows its users to see only the facts that impact them directly. This means that CEOs and other top officials can have the zoomed-out view that allows them to act in the interest of many departments at once, while highly specialized workers delve into their own verticals with drill-down metrics to make snap decisions accurately. This sort of personalized experience is part of the bedrock that supports true self-service BI.

Big Data Doesn’t Mean Excessive Data

The business intelligence world is wrapped up in an era of discovery. The basic concepts behind this technology are well-understood and cataloged, with many companies interested in unlocking them. They are therefore interested in picking out the best practices of BI and analytics and becoming the best in their respective fields. This involves several components, including the addition of new tech tools and the restructuring of processes within departments. Many experts have offered views on this evolving field, including hints on what companies should do to move ahead of the pack in a world where everyone is committed to data use.

Big data's not everything
One of the most prominent terms involved in the BI field is "big data." However, too much of a focus on the scale of data can take away from appreciation for other important components of its analysis. Enterprise Apps Today recently reported on a presentation at the ClickZ Live Chicago conference by TDBank Group's Greg Przyklenk. He stated that too much focus on adding a host of new data sources can cause trouble. This information may not be relevant to the issues at hand and may actually muddle the insights businesses take away from their analytics projects. Relevance is the data watchword, he suggested, not scale.

Przyklenk laid down some easy guidelines for selecting the right kind of information for a particular company to analyze. This means considering what the firm requires first. If there is a problem in need of solving, the impetus is now to collect content that could address that question. If data is simply being taken in and kept around, or integrated into irrelevant processes, the effects are likely to be negative as well as expensive. This is not to say that going for bigger data is always wrong, just that there is a case to be made for pushing relevance to the front of the priorities list.

The best of both worlds
When working with BI software, it's a good practice to ensure it can handle big data if called upon but isn't limited to that functionality. After all, there are many different ways to harness content, and these extra features may prove more important than the ability to take in large content. For instance, Necto 14 can comprehend huge amounts of raw information, but it also comes equipped with many other advanced features, such as mobile-friendly dashboards and customized views that bring the whole company into the fold with analytics results. It truly is the best of both worlds – scale of data when needed and advanced features at all times.

Self-service BI a Natural Next Step for Some Businesses

Leaders within certain industries are pushing for new business intelligence features. Generally, these are expansions to the general concept of BI, whereas traditional BI represents the great idea of improving decisions through data but is constrained by its functional limitations. Older BI systems were functionally complicated, requiring dedicated IT professionals to parse the data on their powerful desktop PCs. These problems have been swept away by developments such as apps that can be used on mobile devices and the concept of self-service BI, simple interfaces that work in many departments. This latter trend has the potential to change the whole process of using analytics.

Organizations take the plunge
A recent CloudTweaks piece assessed which types of businesses are best suited for a self-service makeover. The source asserted that there is room for an upgrade in both large and small companies. While SMBs may be considered a more natural fit for this technology – because they generally don't have data scientists on staff and can benefit from simple BI interfaces – large organizations can also see improvement. According to CloudTweaks, there is room to reassemble a whole company culture around analysis. This is a way to boost the performance of every role from the C-level on down through a dose of data.

The actual granular benefits of BI are linked with its streamlining of age-old BI advantages. The source explained that a long process of communication between line-of-business pros and their IT department contacts can be completely eliminated when users each have their own BI software. The IT workers are free to get back to innovating and the company can move forward with its decisions, confident that they are fueled by fresh data and accurate analysis of those numbers. CloudTweaks cited more efficient operations without a correlated amount of time put in by the most tech-savvy employees.

Time to upgrade?
One of the most exciting facets of self-service BI is that it has already arrived. The futuristic capabilities built into these software solutions are available now through programs such as Necto 14. Throughout corporate structures, employees can view dashboards that directly address problems they are really facing rather than digging through reports meant only for expert eyes. Those same IT pros, freed from their duty of serving insights to the rest of the company, can press forward with the next stage of the organization's technological development. With everyone more productive, firms as a whole can improve their standing within their individual industries.

Business Intelligence Assuming an Advanced Shape for 2015

The process of extracting valuable insights from raw data has been part of the enterprise world for decades. However, business intelligence has never been stagnant. Compare two eras of the technology, even a few years apart, and it becomes clear that analytics solutions are moving forward on an endless timeline, with new options always emerging and the potential uses of the software expanding with the passing months. Leaders who previously decided the technology was too narrow or limited for their purposes may want to look again as BI faces 2015 with a new set of features and role within companies.

Trend Forecast: 2015
A recent eWEEK report on the state of BI got at a few of the issues that define this software. The source noted, for example, that it is no longer a best practice to only use internal information as fuel for analytics. Software solutions have grown – both the algorithms that crunch the numbers and the processes that gather raw data. It would be foolish to ignore the fact that good analysis comes from merging many different sources of information. By automatically melding multiple perspectives into one result, today's BI solutions can give a more nuanced picture of an industry without excess difficulty on the user's behalf.

The news provider noted that part of BI's evolution could come for the new role of the individuals tasked with managing the software. The IT department, once a kind of support system that ensured the rest of the firm was supplied with useful tech, is now an active contributor to corporate strategy. The synthesis of leadership and tech is so great that innovations are largely achieved by introducing an updated piece of software. BI could be one of the strategic game-changers, changing the contours of entire industry segments by equipping leaders with sought-after knowledge.

The push for great software
If BI is to fulfill the latter of those predictions and become a strategic game-changer, it will likely have to address the former, combining internal and external data. Solutions such as Necto 14 can pool a huge number of data sources into a powerful list of insights, tailored to suit the needs of the individual users working with the software instead of granting a generic overview. While there are many types of information out there and numerous different creators of this content, users who find themselves able to work with a large cross-section of data shouldn't hesitate to do so. The latest tech can help them bring this capability into their operations.

Business intelligence basics for 2015

Business intelligence is a technology with an unbeatable premise – better decisions. This is applicable to just about every area of corporate operations, in a vast number of industries. If there is data on a topic, companies can sharpen their response to related operations, and as of today, there is information pouring in on just about everything. Organizational leaders can commit a reasonable amount of resources to gaining an advantage over their closest rivals. Winning such a battle can represent the difference between financial success and failure in today's intense and close market battles that have extended to international competition via the Internet.

Today's competencies
Creating a BI project today means getting down to the basic concepts behind the technology, ideas that can be obscured by years of hype and experimentation. A recent piece by Forbes contributor Suhas Sreedhar pointed out these underlying concepts, the ones that animate analytics. He explained that one of the most important points of BI development is making the tools accessible to a wide selection of employees. This may be lost in the shuffle as organizations prioritize bigger and more impressive collections of data. Implementers who focus too hard on the quest to work with more resources may end up with a theoretically great system usable by no one.

Sreedhar relayed advice from IT Business Edge, explaining that theoretically sound BI projects can fail if no users can get a handle on their applications. In an environment where just about every department of a company has some kind of analytics it could be performing, cutting these professionals off is one way to weaken the relevance of a solution. Sreedhar noted that there is something to be said for spending a little on a system that will fit into an existing workflow. The opposite, breaking the bank and buying a solution no one can understand, is pointless.

Self-service BI thrives
The use of self-service solutions is the antithesis of the top-heavy model that suggests processing power is all that counts. Applications such as Necto 14 embrace true self-service BI as a mission statement and include dashboards that can be customized to suit the unique preferences of departments throughout the company. This way, employees from CEOs on down can see the data points they are used to and need to know about, rather than dealing with a stream of raw numbers or figures more relevant to some other section of the organization. This way of looking at BI can save companies from investing in tools that don't help them.

Marketers set to become BI leaders in 2015

The use of business intelligence is a broader area of organizational focus now than ever before. While these systems were once confined to a few experts, every generation has brought them closer to their destiny as easy-to-use tech solutions. The story of BI is the same as that of every other system that started in an exclusive silo and ended up on every desk. Prices and ease of use are becoming more forgiving and companies are realizing that the outdated model employees must use to file BI jobs with experienced workers dedicated to the task is inefficient. End users are calling for BI access and the tools are there to accommodate them.

The rise of marketing
Forbes contributor Prakash Nanduri recently sketched his view of BI in 2015, and the predictions include the furthering of several trends that are emergent today. For instance, Nanduri suggested that BI will go well beyond the IT department in the year ahead, with other departments making their own purchases. He offered two choices to IT leaders in the face of this demand: They can either make peace with the non-tech users and work toward common goals, or they can lose control of the ecosystem and be left behind. Today's employees are goal-driven – when they see an opportunity to improve their workflow, they take it.

Marketing is a department on the rise at companies all over the world. Nanduri stated that these sections are driving the expansion of their respective companies, a new status that means marketers have a hand in tech adoption. The author reported there are new possibilities unlocked by the presence of BI. Marketers are intensely interested in being guided by the facts gathered from inside and outside their organizations, as this means the end of intuition as a leadership tool. Firms guided by data will have a real-world view of their circumstances, one that could elude other organizations.

Time for self-service
Nanduri's insistence that self-service features are a pressing trend raises an issue for firms selecting BI software. They need this advanced feature now. Fortunately, solutions such as Necto 14 are ready to meet such requirements. The software is built to accommodate the needs of many different professionals, offering dashboards that show just what the users need to know. CEOs will have very different ideal views than marketers, but each can rest easy knowing he or she does not have to face down pages of menus or raw data to learn pertinent details. No matter which department is in the driver's seat, self-service BI features help them lead the way.