Blog

January 22nd, 2016

2016Jan22_BusinessIntelligence_AWhen you think business intelligence, you likely think about charts and graphs that reveal valuable data about your customers, profits, and operations. While these may be simple enough for some to understand, what if you could simplify your data even more? A new innovation in the business intelligence world may have just made this a possibility. Here’s what you need to know.

Earlier this week, the Chicago-based company, Narrative Science, integrated with the business intelligence and visualization software company, Qlik. The fruit of this integration is a new way of looking at your data beyond your standard charts and graphs. Yes, charts and graphs are still used, but now there is a new element that comes into play: story. Qlik now enables businesses to take the data on their charts and graphs and automatically turn it into a narrative that will explain the most important and relevant points of their data. These stories are presented in easily understood, natural language and can be personalized to the audience who is reading them. For example, if you want to change the format, language style or detail of the story, you can easily adjust these.

How storytelling can help with business intelligence

While charts and graphs are easy to read for people who are regularly looking at them, there can be a learning curve for those who are new to the specific set of data they’re analyzing. And when you are presenting a series of charts and graphs to a group of colleagues, it may be difficult for you to convey the data in an easily understandable way. This is why storytelling can be a vital tool with your business intelligence efforts.

Everyone can relate to a story. In fact people have been doing so since the stone age as evident by the carvings on cave walls depicting different tales. Today, all it takes is a simple click of your remote to see hundreds of different stories appear on your TV. Storytelling makes it easy to digest information for anyone. This is why both morals and ethics are often illustrated in parables or stories to convey their message. These stories that many of us heard from childhood, like the story of King Solomon who suggested cutting a living child in two to settle an argument or of King Midas and the golden touch, remain in the minds of many of us for a lifetime.

Stories stick in our brains. And they can make it easy to understand complex information, which can be especially helpful when it comes to data. This is why Qlik’s new data to story function sounds so exciting. It aims to make it easier to present data in a more user friendly way. This will hopefully save time and headaches for people trying to understand complex data. Of course, since it is so new, only time will tell what kind of impact it will have and whether or not it will live up to expectation.

Want more of the latest business intelligence news? Need help making sense out of your data, or looking for other ways new technology can help? Get in touch with our IT experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 7th, 2016

BusinessIntelligence_Dec28_AUnderstanding how your visitors are using your website is one of the most important things you can do to optimize your online presence and generate more leads and revenue. Google Analytics remains the top analytic tool, allowing you to keep track. Yet many companies tend to focus on the overall performance without taking the time to understand other key metrics that contribute to the end result. Here, we’ve compiled a list of Google Analytics’ metrics that are worth knowing about.

What exactly is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free website analytic product offered by Google. It is an application that collates visitor data from your website and provides basic statistics and analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO). The data is used to generate reports that give you insights as to how your visitors are engaging with your website.

With Google Analytics, you can analyze your traffic to discover whether your target market is finding your website, how they’re finding it, and if they’re taking the actions you expect them to take while on your site. By tracking and analyzing your traffic you can increase the engagement and enhance your marketing strategies.

Google Analytics’ Key Metrics

Navigating Google Analytics can be mind-numbing, since you are likely to get lost in its many features, variables, and settings. Check out these basic key metrics that will help you analyze your website traffic.

Unique Visitors Most people tend to confuse this metric with “Visits”. The Unique Visitors metric can give you an accurate number as to how much real traffic you receive on a daily basis because, unlike the Visits metric, it doesn’t solely rely on cookies to count. This means any of your visitors would be counted once, even if they cleared their computer of cookies.

Pageviews The Pageviews metric should increase in direct proportion to the numbers shown in Unique Visitors. This metric represents how deep your unique visitors go into your website pages. If the percentage is low, your content may not be engaging enough to encourage visitors to explore the your website further than the home or landing page.

Bounce Rate The Bounce Rate metric will tell you the percentage of visitors who left your website after viewing only one page. High bounce rates can mean that your website is not appealing to visitors in certain aspects such as the design, content, navigation, and so on. Tracking your website’s bounce rate will quickly help you identify things that are not working well on your website, so you can fix the problem accordingly and ensure you grab visitors' attention from the first click.

Traffic Sources This metric shows which sources drive the most and least traffic to your website. Generally there are four types of metrics: Referral, Direct, Organic Search, and Social.

  • Referral traffic - These visitors found your site via your off-page marketing efforts, such as backlinks and blog articles on other websites.
  • Direct traffic - These visitors are highly targeted, since they type your URL directly into their web browser.
  • Organic search - These visitors discover your site after searching a keyword in a search engine, usually from Google.
  • Social traffic - These visitors came from social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
These are the metrics that matter to tracking your website’s visitors. They consist of basic numbers that are easy to understand and interpret. Once you get a handle of these metrics, you can make your way to more advanced metrics that provider deeper level and more accurate insight.

For more tips on how to utilize your business data with Google Analytics, contact our specialists today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 16th, 2015

You have finally decided your small or medium-sized business is ready to utilize Business Intelligence (BI) software. This is a big step for your company and one that must be approached with diligence. If you are not careful the cost of BI software, not to mention training, could far outweigh the actual benefits you end up receiving. However, with thoughtful BI planning, you are likely to see results you would have never thought possible.

Quite a few business owners see other companies using BI software and tools successfully and hope to emulate those results. Unfortunately, BI goes far beyond installing a program on your employee’s computers and expecting them to churn out results because of it. In fact, without proper planning in place, you could end up losing money on your BI investment.

If you’re ready to bring BI software and tools to your small or medium-sized business but aren’t quite sure what your should be looking for, here are four things you need to consider during the planning process.

What data do you need to know

BI software is great at helping you obtain data and presenting it to you in all kinds of different ways. But it’s only helpful if you can actually use the information. Too many businesses jump on the BI software bandwagon because they hear about the great results other companies have achieved using these tools. However, if you don’t know what information you’re looking for or how to use that data to your advantage, BI software essentially becomes a toy for you and your staff to play with.

That’s why you need to fully understand what information and data your business needs before implementing any BI software. This will help you pick the best tool for your needs and then utilize it to great effect.

Create specific goals

When you are planning to implement BI software it is vital to have a specific endgame in mind. Increasing profits sounds great but it’s hard to utilize BI effectively when tackling a goal of that magnitude. Instead focus on performance metrics you can measure like higher closing rates or more online conversations. This will help make your planning easier and allow you to find the BI tools required to reach those goals as well as track your progress along the way.

Think about today and the future

It is important to not only think about BI software in correlation to your short term goals but your long term ones as well. You want to make sure your BI software is useful both now and in the future. Find something that can grow alongside your company over the long haul. You don’t want to constantly be changing or adding on to BI tools unless it is absolutely necessary. If possible, find BI solutions that are scalable and flexible so they can help over a longer period of time.

Keep it simple

Sometimes the desire to know more about your company can see you end up overloading your staff and employees with complex toolsets and data. The goal, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, should be data that is quickly accessible and easy to comprehend. This will allow you and your team to make speedy and informed decisions. Convoluting the process with unnecessary information or complicated process will only serve to negate what you are trying to do by installing BI software in the first place.

BI tools and software are designed to help you work smarter, not harder. When you plan to bring them to your company, this is something you will want to keep at the forefront of your decision making process.

If your company is looking to start utilizing BI tools, our team of experts can help. Together we can create a BI plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 5th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Oct5_ABusiness intelligence (BI) tools are powerful platforms that allow organizations to gain significant insight into their business activities, clients, employees, infrastructure, and much more. But as data volume continues to grow exponentially, more and more business owners are realizing that traditional BI tools are becoming less effective - and so they turn towards a more modern, efficient, and self-service approach.

What is self-service business intelligence?

Self-service BI is a reporting and analytics platform that business users with limited IT knowledge and experience can use for themselves. Simply put, if an end user trying to find an answer to a business question can access, use, and generate reports without bothering the IT department or data analysts, then they’ve done self-service BI.

The end goal of self-service BI is to eliminate redundant processes where users have to request access and assistance from data analysts and technology experts. With self-service BI, users are able to gather information, analyze it, and share the reports with others, without having to know the technical protocols required to access the data.

Traditional vs. self-service

In traditional BI systems, analysts create reports based on input data, and deliver them to key decision makers. In the case where the decision makers need more detail or different data, or change their business questions, analysts have to adapt the report or create new ones.

Self-service BI is designed to eliminate this time-consuming reporting process, placing much of the responsibility for report creation on end users. It opens the door to data exploration and new possibilities. Instead of asking analysts to generate reports, end users have the ability and tools to find the answers to their own business questions whenever they want.

How self-service BI can benefit your business

Self-service BI helps improve organizations in various key areas. Here are just some of the benefits it has for your business.
  • It saves time - most likely there are far more people asking business questions than there are IT experts creating reports to answer them. By removing the dependency on data analysts and technical staff, companies are able to improve the efficiency of their analytical process and save time, as end users can find the answers to their questions themselves.
  • It eliminates mistakes - the more decisions users have to make, the less likely they are to make the right ones. Self-service BI helps ease the decision-making process by delivering nearly instant reports and visualizations that are easy to understand. Users can analyze their data from any angle and deduce answers without having to consult specialists.
  • It reduces costs - since end users are able to utilize self-service BI with little to no training, training and support costs are significantly lower than other BI solutions. What’s more, self-service BI platforms can be accessed from anywhere and at any time, without the need to install expensive hardware and servers, allowing businesses to save money.
There are plenty of benefits of adopting self-service BI. As more employees are able to analyze and explore data by themselves, decisions can be made much faster and at a far lower cost. Want to learn more about business intelligence and how you can implement it in your organization? Give us a call today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 26th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Aug25_ADashboards have become an extremely useful tool for companies to make the most of their raw data. With proper implementation, a dashboard can display essential information in an easy-to-understand format, allowing business owners to take in the most important data about their company at a glance. But a dashboard can say a lot of things depending on its setup, and it’s important to choose one that can best serve your purpose. Here are three types of business dashboards to consider.

Strategic dashboards

Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard doesn’t provide information in-depth enough to make complex decisions, and is typically is updated once a month or quarter.

Benefits of strategic dashboards As the name suggests, strategic dashboards are designed to provide strategic guidance. The dashboards give a bird’s-eye view of your business. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons, or inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization.

Analytical dashboards

This type of dashboard provides users with insights from a volume of data collected over time, enabling you to understand why certain things are happening, and what changes should be made in the future in order to accommodate them. The data presented in analytical dashboards tends to be complex, and usually requires advanced training to use. That’s why they are generally used by business analysts, instead of being widely deployed to other employees and across all departments.

Benefits of analytical dashboards When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards provide detailed information that allows you to compare current against historic data. Implementing analytical dashboards allows you to enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities in your data, and determine why processes are working in certain departments.

Operational dashboards

Operational dashboards are used to monitor the real-time operations of employees, allowing them to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their work performance. This type of dashboard is commonly found in departments where it’s essential to respond to critical information quickly, such as those working in sales and marketing.

Benefits of operational dashboards Business owners rely on operational dashboards to track their employees’ progress, and to be notified of issues as they come up in order to respond quickly. What’s more, the dashboards provide up-to-date information, all bundled in one place, making it easy for employees to make quick decisions without having to dig through large amounts of data.

Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time, or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 21st, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Jul21_AData visualizations are common in business presentations today. They can provide us an overview of information and results in a simple and easily digestible way. Good data visualization helps users to understand data in order to make informed decisions based on the findings. Bad data visualization, on the other hand, will provide little to no value for readers and make complex data even more difficult to comprehend. With that said, you can present data in a better way by avoiding these common mistakes.

Inconsistent visualizations

It’s important to be consistent when presenting your data, otherwise users will have to stop and figure out how to read each new picture before they can comprehend what it says, wasting time and defeating the purpose of data visualization. Luckily, there are some best practices you can follow. For instance, try choosing colors that go well together. Use only 2-3 colors at most throughout your visualization - any more and you’ll find that your pictures might be hard to read. Also, use the same iconography and typography in each picture so your audience can quickly understand the information.

Displaying too much data

Overly complicated data visualizations are sure to turn off most audiences because they can’t figure out where and what to focus on. Your customers, colleagues, and employers want specific, relevant answers. The quicker you can deliver those answers, the better. Irrelevant data gives your presentation a cluttered look, making finding relevant information more difficult for readers. The solution? Find a compromise between showing too much data and not showing enough overall. Use good judgement.

Oversimplifying data

The purpose of data visualization is to present data in a way that’s easy to understand. While it’s all too easy to simplify data, if you go too far and leave out crucial parts, your audiences won’t be able to see or grasp the main point of the presentation. Instead of trying to oversimplify data, it’s better to include all important criteria and organize them into a structure so audiences can easily understand what’s being presented to them.

Choosing the wrong visualization

This is one of the most common mistakes made in data visualization. There are many different types of data out there, and each of those types require different analytics and tools to use. For example, if you want to present a sales growth comparison in the last 5 years, it’s better to use bar charts that can clearly show the difference at a glance. If you want to show a relationship between two metrics, on the other hand, you should use a scatter chart to show results.

The best way to avoid all these errors is to focus on your goals first. It’s likely that you’ll have to make changes along the way, which is actually a good thing, because it will make your presentation more accurate and effective.

Want to learn more about other business intelligence tools to implement in your company? Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.