Thursday, December 5th, 2013
It's not uncommon for established small to medium businesses to hit a bit of a wall when it comes to sales and growth. Often, after a period of great growth, businesses can begin to see sales and profits level off. This stabilization can be tough to break out of, especially if you want to continue growing. One way businesses can break the cycle though is by analyzing existing data to identify patterns.
In order to move your business forward and grow, you should analyze and try to interpret the data in your organization. This includes everything from previous financial statements, year-on-year sales figures and numbers, and even KPIs or estimated Vs actual figures. By looking into this data, you will eventually begin to find patterns which can be useful in not only helping you figure out the current state of your company, but in identifying where it is going.
Why should you analyze data for patterns?
Most experts agree that there are four reasons businesses should be analyzing their data:
- You can better evaluate past performance.
- You can assess current status.
- You can more accurately predict future potential.
- You can make better decisions that will maximize profits and resources.
Essentially, when you track and analyze your data you should be able to spot potentially important patterns that can allow you to make better decisions, quicker, and usually with more accuracy. It is the analysis of patterns that also makes up an important part of Business Intelligence.
What types of patterns should you look for?
Many small to medium … Continue reading the story "Analyzing Patterns In Your Business"
Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Today’s savvy business owner gathers information in a way that consistently reveals insights into corporate operations. Through careful and deliberate examination of all aspects of your business, a portrait can emerge that points the way forward toward a profitable tomorrow. The key is to know which data is not relevant and which is by employing the right tools during the information gathering process.
Many small businesses depend on their IT personnel to provide data that will enhance their business. However, there’s a difference between mere data and enriched information that improves performance. For instance, you might be surprised to find that page views are largely useless. This figure tells very little about how people are actually using your site, which is the most important information you can have. Data that leads to improvements is more than just information. It’s intelligence. There are many types of information which can help businesses become more intelligent.
Visitor flow follows how users navigate your website. The most important point is to learn about where your customers enter your site, and where they leave. Simple numbers of visitors is not as useful. Let’s say that you are running an online store and that 350 visitors left your site on the 'confirm order' page. This might suggest there’s some type of sticking point related to this page. It might be that the wrong orders are loading. It might be that a sudden tax add-on that wasn’t fully clarified caused users to cancel the purchase. Regardless of … Continue reading the story "Information + insight = smart business"
Friday, October 11th, 2013
Decision making can be among the toughest tasks to do when running a business. Make the wrong ones and you could see profits dip or customers disappear. In order to make better decisions, many companies are implementing Business Intelligence (BI). Because BI can utilize a lot of data, a common way to present is is by visualizing it.
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 … Continue reading the story "3 keys to successful data visualization"
Friday, September 13th, 2013
Business Intelligence has become a popular concept among many small business managers and owners - who doesn't want to be able to harness data to help make decisions? One of the more popular ways businesses manipulate data is by visualizing it. While this can be useful, it's not perfect for every occasion. So, the question is: when should data visualization be used?
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:
- Education - Many visualizations are valuable because they educate or report on a specific topic. These can also provide insight into changes related to a topic over time, so that you are able to understand trends and learn from them.
- Exploration - As more data sets become increasingly larger, it can be tough to easily spot relationships between them and create predictions. Visualization can make this easier to understand and manage.
- Confirmation - If there are assumptions about a subject, … Continue reading the story "When to use data visualization"
Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Data has always been an important part of the decision making process in business, it's also proven integral in day-to-day operations. That's why the idea of Business Intelligence (BI) is starting to catch on with businesses. The ability to capture and analyze data is tempting, and when done correctly, it can bring massive benefit. However, some companies have tried and failed, which has proven to 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 … Continue reading the story "BI – 4 mistakes companies make"
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Making decisions is often one of the most challenging aspects of running a successful business. Sure, some conclusions come easy, but others require the decision maker to have a good and reliable source of knowledge and information at their disposal. This is why many businesses are turning to Business Intelligence (BI) to help the important decision making process. There's a new sector of BI however that has recently become all the rage: 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
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).
This covers how people interact with one another, or with … Continue reading the story "Why Big Data is Business Intelligence!"
Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Data has always been an important part of any business, and since the rise of the Internet age, it has become even more so. Because of this, many businesses have begun instituting Business Intelligence (BI) with the hopes of being able to better manage data, while also making better decisions. If you have heard of BI and are looking to get a hold of your data, do you know the main types you can employ?
Business Intelligence is generally divided into four different categories which are comprised of different types of BI that businesses working with data should be aware of.
Reporting focuses on developing documents with valuable information, telling the reader what happened. They usually cover a time span that is determined by the writer of the report and can provide information on the whole company's activities, or be as simple as a weekly report which looks at your Facebook campaign.
Many BI professionals will call the reports generated from BI efforts Standard Reports - a record of past activities and data.
Analysis looks at why something happened. This is an important part of BI, because data by itself is useless. It only become useful when it has been analyzed and turned into something that we can interpret and understand. There are three common types of analysis:
- Spreadsheet Analysis - Analyzing data contained in spreadsheets with the goal of evaluating or anticipating company wide, or specific unit performance. E.g., using Excel to track hours your employees … Continue reading the story "4 categories of BI you could be using"
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
In the modern age of technology, with nearly everything going online, making business decisions has become incredibly tough. There is so much data available to us that we simply can't assimilate and comprehend all of it. The danger being that this is potentially causing us to make the wrong decisions. Business Intelligence (BI) is the idea of harnessing this data and analyzing it so we can make better choices. One of the newer components of BI is the concept of social data.
Here's an overview of social data and three ways small business owners and managers can use it to make decisions.
What is social data?
Social data is any data or information collected from the various social media sites available. The easiest way to define social data is to differentiate it from social media. Social media is content that a user has created, copied or linked with the idea of sharing it with other people using a platform i.e., Facebook. Social data is the information that is linked to this content, such as shares, likes, location, time posted, etc.
It is social data that powers analytics and social media monitoring, (how popular your content, profile, etc. is), and if utilized efficiently could go a long way in helping you make better business decisions and a more focused marketing strategy.
Because there is so much data relating to and generated by social media activities, it can be nearly impossible to track and analyze it all. But, it is quickly becoming an important part … Continue reading the story "A brief overview of social data"
Thursday, April 25th, 2013
The amount of data available to businesses is growing at such an exponential rate that many are simply overwhelmed. Most of this data can be utilized in some way, be it to help make decisions or even judge the overall success of operations. One of the major ways to measure success is through the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But what exactly are they?
Below is an overview of KPIs for business.
The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a tool used to measure performance of a business or employees. Many businesses use this tool to look at either the overall performance and success of all or specific operations. To many, the terms performance and success are synonyms.
How do KPIs work?
Most modern versions of this tool come in the form of software applications that track specific data and criteria set by managers or owners. The software allows them to compare these criteria, commonly referred to as Score Cards, with the established goals and gauge overall performance or success.
This data, usually collected from spreadsheets, databases or even manual data entry, is displayed to the user in an easy to read format called a dashboard. The dashboard is typically a graph or similar visual display.
A common dashboard is the traffic light. Let's say for example that a company is measuring the success of their latest marketing campaign. A green light indicates that the expected number of conversions is being met or exceeded, yellow means actual conversions are slightly below normal and … Continue reading the story "KPIs for businesses defined"