We are sitting smack dab in the middle of the data revolution. Every single company regardless of size or industry has the ability to collect data—on supplies, on inventory and of course, on consumers, just to name a few. And it’s no secret that data can aide in decision making and increase the productivity of our business operations. Whether you are on board or not, the data revolution has made tech companies out of all of us.
In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Tech Pro Research, almost all of the respondents said their company collected data to glean business insights. The difference between them? Every company used a different piece of technology to get to those insights. Let’s take a look at how data revolution has helped companies change.
Collection, Storage and Analysis? Technology Can Help
Thanks to the incubator that is the tech world, we have nearly unlimited options when it comes to tech products for our businesses. We aren’t simply sending emails or pushing out surveys anymore. Instead, we are watching open rates of those emails and measuring response rates of those surveys.
How are companies around the world making the switch from simply doing to analyzing? They are using technology to collect, store and analyze for them.
Remember when we used to take down critical information on pen and paper? We have come such a long way. Sensors are everywhere and are collecting critical information for us. Someone doesn’t have to stand in the warehouse and count the boxes or the number of products. The sensors are doing the work.
Businesses are also using RFID sensors in key fobs, wristbands and more to gather information about consumers as well as products. Sensors placed within each product in a warehouse can be tracked and monitored. Or, perhaps a retailer would like to know how much milk is flying off the shelf. RFID sensors are perfect for gathering physical data such as this.
IoT sensors using machine learning capabilities are changing the way businesses make changes to their products, marketing strategy and UX. For example, a sensor within a warehouse can tell whether the temperature is right for the product. If it isn’t, it will change it and notify the correct party. Your local grocery store can all but guarantee that the produce that was shipped from a warehouse three states over was always kept at the right temperature thanks to sensors. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
For data storage, the cloud is still the king. Businesses are able to increase or decrease their storage capacity depending on the data they are collecting. The cloud does not take up on-premise space and it is cost-effective and scalable. I’m sure I don’t need to go on and on about the benefits of the cloud because like most businesses you probably have data stored on four to five clouds.
Other businesses are taking advantage of Data as a Service or DaaS companies that store the data and then make it available for businesses. DaaS benefits include the ability to move data from one platform to another, the lack of repetitive and multiple versions of data, outsourcing of the presentation aspect of data storage, easy collaboration and accessibility from any location and any device.
The most critical part of using data isn’t the collection or the storage. Data would not be useful without the analysis. Companies are beginning to invest in technology such as deep machine learning and artificial intelligence to help them get the most out of their data. AI allows businesses to analyze natural language, data relevancy, relationships and anomalies within data sets. A person doesn’t need to sift through the data to find patterns, a computer can do it for you.
Businesses are starting their analysis by using data preprocessing tools to rid their data of repetition and create a data set that is consistent in format. The data is cleansed, which makes it easier to read and understand. Businesses are also using knowledge discovery tools to mine big data that is stored on multiple sources.
But my favorite part of the data revolution would be predictive analytics. Companies now have a crystal ball, basically, to help them make decisions in the future based on past data. I’ve told the story before about the Harley Davidson dealership that increased their leads by nearly 3000 percent in just three months.
Haven’t Joined the Data Revolution Yet? Here’s Why You Should
For some businesses, such as small and medium-sized businesses, the data revolution is only a thought. However, to be competitive, SMBs and other businesses must join the revolution as soon as possible. Business who use data to target their core audience will come out on top. How do we make it happen?
- Choose the right data to track. This may look different for all businesses. For SMBs, choose the right data with careful thought. You will want to place what attention you have on the most critical data.
- Collect clean and useful data. Now, businesses must collect clean and useful data from the data they have decided to track. As stated earlier, there are tools such as preprocessing tools and AI that can help.
- Integrate that data from all sources. Tools such as DaaS and the cloud can help SMBs and other businesses integrate their data into one source.
- Automate the analytics process. It’s impossible to effectively analyze all data sources together without some form of automation. New technology such as AI can help.
- Put the data to work. It takes time and work to gather the critical data about your customers. However, it must be done to stay competitive and improve their experience. AI tools, collection tools such as RFID sensors and more make it easier to put this data to work without breaking the entire budget.
For all businesses, it’s time to embrace the data revolution and begin to collect, store and analyze. Despite the challenges, businesses of all sizes will benefit from the treasure trove to be found within their data strategy.
The original version of this post first published on Forbes.