I just reread George Orwell’s 1984 for the first time since high school. I must admit that his idea of ‘Big Brother’ watching us all feels so much more real today than it did when I first read the book. Browser cookies, social media tracking, geolocation apps, the NSA and Edward Snowden all give me the willies. I admit that my laptop’s Webcam is covered with one of my business cards and a piece of duct tape (luckily both are black and match the case). But I still worry about my microphone (testing testing). Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The more esoteric uses for business intelligence are exciting, to be sure, but BI is also helpful for everyday operations. Some fields, such as insurance, finance and retail, have huge troves of data flowing in and out that would turn into valuable resources with the right technology to harness them. This is where business intelligence and analytics systems fit in and, indeed, where they may already be doing so. When looking for a company that currently uses analytics, those with ample numerical data are great candidates. Firms in these industries that aren't using BI may be falling behind the curve.
The holiday rush
There is perhaps no greater test for retailers than excelling during the holidays. This is the time of the year when a strategy crystallizes and it becomes clear whether a firm will be seeing red in its ledgers. As TechTarget recently pointed out, BI comes to the fore when retail users need to be at their most effective, and that is the time between November and the end of the year. The source presented anecdotes from a specialty business called The Grommet which studies its customer base's behavior, hoping to find a marketing message that will sell an ideal number of products to consumers.
TechTarget explained that further clarification came at the SAS Premier Business Leadership Series gathering, where Northwestern University professor Terri Albert spoke on customer loyalty. Albert stated there should be a custom retail approach for each client, with practices that change automatically to meet clients halfway. To do that, companies need to take in data about their consumers and turn the information into action. This is a job for BI and advanced analytics software. Some analysis, including the inspection of social interactions, may enter the realm of big data. However firms handle this analysis, they should do so during high-pressure times for maximum possible impact.
Working with consumer data requires software that is up to the task. Programs such as Necto 14 fit the bill because of the ability to both analyze large quantities of esoteric data and present slivers of results that are relevant to specific individuals within the company. These professionals don't have to dig through endless screens to learn what they most want to know, and there's no need to hand off analysis duties to a small group of specially trained experts within the company, either. Such relevant and targeted knowledge delivery could transform the holiday season for businesses eager to optimize sales.
Organizations around the world are interested in becoming more data-driven and advancing with respect to the most recent developments in information collection and use. This type of advancement has become a hit in the IT media, with publications and researchers constantly delving into new ways to plumb data's depths. Trends in the technology sphere are never really independent of one another, and that holds true in this case. From mobile devices to cloud computing to the collection and use of big data, everything is tied together – and that brings thinkers back to BI, a classic method of information analysis that informed all the later trends.
IoT ties into analytics
The Internet of Things is a big deal because it takes the digital-age concept of connectivity well beyond its existing parameters. When everyday items are feeding information to a central system, anything is measurable. According to TechTarget, however, all of this promise is wrapped up in the existing concept of analytics. Firms without solid ways into their data will gain little from the new wave of sensors and scanners, and those with intuitive analysis will be the main beneficiaries. The source urged leaders to remember that information needs inspection to become more than a burden.
TechTarget indicated that there is potential for organizations to quickly fall out of love with their IoT investments because they are giving too much attention to how they are going to get their hands on data from new objects in their environments and aren't focusing enough on drawing meaningful insight from the assembled facts and figures. While ignoring the first component is definitely a mistake, leaving out the second creates no benefits for firms' investment, and in today's competitive marketplaces, it is always important to prove that a chance has paid off in the form of visible value. Improved decisions via analytics deliver that validation.
The BI field
Some businesses working their way toward the new world of analytics may not have any effective BI at the moment. Fortunately, they don't have to endure in this condition. There are many offerings on the market that give companies a helpful view of their own operations and markets and help them become data-driven in fundamental ways. These are products such as Necto 14, which includes the ability to interact with large new sources of content. As fields of all types change their operational standards, it's potentially devastating for organizations to cling to outdated methodologies.
Part of the reason business intelligence is an eternally relevant business practice lies in its ability to evolve. As each generation of organizations confronts its unique corporate challenges, the goals of determining the best course of action and improving decision-making remain eternally relevant. New algorithms capable of working with diverse types of content keep BI in place as a go-to. Asking these programs for an answer to a business question is relevant in 2014, just as as it was in 2013 and will be in 2015 and beyond. Other trends such as mobility, the cloud and big data feed BI instead of rendering it obsolete.
State of the art
The Next Web recently explained that BI is becoming entrenched and, as such, data scientists are in high demand today. These professionals understand the new ways in which content can become fuel for improved operations. The source indicated developing new products is a data-driven operation today. This means new items that enter the market are optimized before they ever debut, with their features tested against market conditions through analytics.
The news provider reported elements such as marketing content and the tactile experience of using digital products can be switched out depending on BI results and altered to appeal to consumers in ways that would have to be guessed at before. Even now, experimentation is necessary, but it is driven by solid insights rather than guesses.
The information companies are experimenting with is not abstract or two-dimensional. The Next Web reported that today, individuals generate a trail of information throughout their daily lives. Getting closer to consumers than ever before is one possibility facing data-centric companies. These organizations are uniquely well-suited to serve their public because they have completely supplanted the old forms of intelligence-gathering, such as occasional surveys. Why resort to a sample of the public when the whole customer base is now readable?
The right tech
Professionals who know how to put BI into action are valuable and strategies that acknowledge the importance of analytics are promising, but for these elements to have an effect, firms must have the right solutions in place. These are products such as Necto 14 that embrace modern data use concepts, welcoming the use of large information sets and opening that content up through mobile interfaces. With optimal software in place, the need for a large corps of data scientists diminishes, as now all workers can analyze information to benefit their own departments. This is accomplished through the use of custom databases. With these, relevant facts appear in a resonant format.
Business intelligence's modern form is such an ingenious technology because its fuel is there. Big data is not something companies have to go out and look for. In many cases, it has been flowing through their systems for ages. They simply need to learn how to capture and manipulate this content to their ends. Solutions that incorporate big data have become more common in recent months, ensuring that organizations can stand a chance against contemporaries that are making the same types of moves. This is a powerful process, one that is raising the level of whole industries and improving decision-making at a high level.
Waste to value
A recent Midsize Insider piece explored the state of companies' information, namely that it is often less than optimal. The source explored the difference between using big data, equipped with a plan and the proper technology, and simply having a large amount of content. There are often information silos that trap data within the sections of the company that generated or created it, keeping firms from really making use of that data and leading to the information just taking up space. Organizations that fight back against this pile of content and turn it into fuel for an analytics program have flipped this script and can discover new value.
Midsize Insider specified that the end goal of big data use is good decisions. Taking all factors into account, especially those that tend to remain hidden in stacks of unobserved raw content, is a powerful advantage for companies that find the right types of solutions. The source quoted a Wikibon survey of enterprise staff members that found they are distinctly eager to turn their big data algorithms into factories for improved insights, meaning they define the value of their BI solutions as being intrinsically tied to the availability of new perspectives on content. Data is everywhere. New ways to use that information are valuable.
The right products
Finding new angles from which to view ubiquitous data is an extremely important process today, and to that end, leaders need to select solutions that go beyond the capabilities found in their conventional BI lineup. Necto 14 and its fellow modern IT processes are this type of software, expanding their intake to handle types and quantities of information that would previously been deemed useless, doomed to sit on servers and take up space. There is a kind of alchemy in BI that incorporates big data. What was once a huge inconvenience, content that took up space and by extension money, has become a powerful asset.
There have been several limitations historically imposed upon analytics and business intelligence programs. These solutions were used to ask relatively straightforward questions of structured information gathered and curated for that purpose. Now, however, the game has changed. This is because of big data usage, a concept that has expanded what BI is capable of. Organizations are no longer settling for using their small information to unlock a few answers. They are gathering and using content flowing through their systems that would have been considered too fast, large or esoteric even a few years ago. It's a revolution with consequences for how leaders make choices in the years ahead.
Stepping into a new role
According to Midsize Insider, the big data revolution has added predicting the future to companies' analytics tool kits. The source stated that there have been rumblings of this kind of analysis for years, but that it has taken a back seat until now. The idea has become a compelling one for leaders, however, and like most IT developments, companies are quick to react to what their competitors are doing and throw their own efforts behind similar processes, all for fear of being left behind. The news provider explained that the new trick for BI is asking "why" things occur, not just putting together concrete details of the present situation.
Midsize Insider pointed out that there are many ways in which firms can manage their newfound knowledge and turn it into value. Mainly this involves making better decisions due to insider knowledge of how the next steps will play out. Better information now means less risk of walking into sub-optimal business scenarios down the road. Everything has effectively been road-tested before it takes place, meaning money is conserved and lengthy missteps are circumvented. Even an unexpected upcoming development could appear in the results from a big data-enhanced BI system, painting a unique way forward.
Selecting appropriate BI solutions
Organizations searching for products that combine helpful BI functionality with the ability to parse their big data reserves could end up relying on solutions such as Necto 14. Leaders will have to begin stacking up the feature sets of these offerings soon if they want to get a head start on the competition as BI is a big topic of conversation in the market now and promises to remain so for the foreseeable future. The idea that knowledge can empower firms, no matter their industry, is a compelling one, and one that remains enticing for many organizations.