Business owners who know their customers thoroughly and respond to them quickly and effectively have always ruled the market. It is a rule of commerce that prevails without exception in free economies. Today, that pursuit of knowledge regarding consumer likes, dislikes, demographics of every kind and shopping/buying habits takes place in the Cloud where Big Data is stored and sorted for use by savvy business owners and entrepreneurs who want to reach more customers. Virtually all large companies use Cloud computing and make use of Big Data.
Technological advances in software have made it possible for businesses to consolidate and share mutually beneficial data as well. Business Intelligence software is quickly adjusting to the shifting marketplace. It’s used to gather and extract data from diverse sources such as databases, spreadsheets and even other software programs. That data can then be more easily analyzed to help firms create effective business strategies that address their specific strengths and weaknesses. One review of the top ten business intelligence software services reveals the most recent new features.
Services offer such a wide variety of features that there is one right for virtually any type of business. Another article pointed out the five companies control 75% of the market share. With so many new innovations, that means additional savings from smaller companies competing with industry giants such as Tableau. For example, MicroStrategy software is layered over data warehouses to offer support to large-scale enterprises with demanding environments. Companies like Lowe’s rely on it to track billions of transaction records and manage stock levels in their stores. Yahoo uses it to analyze web traffic and e-commerce data.
TIBCO Spotfire utilizes a number of features like business process management and complex event processing. Their predictive analytics and visual data mining assist companies in sales forecasting as well as interactive reporting in real time. Like many Saas providers, they also offer a free trial. QlikTech is another contender, and its ease of use prompted them to announce that virtually anyone, regardless of IT experience, can use it. Their software enables business users to access data from multiple sources and conduct searches and create charts with a simple click of a mouse. The company also offers a free download of the software.
While big business has utilized these services for years, small and medium sized businesses are now also able to take advantage of these tools to reach new and existing customers.
Making use of Cloud and Big Data can help your business in many ways.
When you have a better picture of what your potential customers are looking for, it gives you the opportunity to tailor your products and services to match each demographic. This leads to more precisely targeted marketing and advertising, a more receptive consumer audience and sales that give you a larger share of the market. When the information you need to make marketing decisions is flowing to you in real time, you’ve got the means to be out in front of the competition in offering exactly what people are looking for.
If you’ve got a sales team out in the field, the Cloud offers outstanding collaboration, contact management, inventory information, productivity statistics and other tools that can be accessed and employed from anywhere.
When you store your company data in the Cloud, there is no need to purchase expensive hardware and other infrastructure for the purpose. Storage costs are dramatically reduced. In addition, when you take advantage of Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) applications, the need for in-house IT staff can be eliminated. On the security side, the Cloud offers the latest in information security. It’s not perfect, and data breaches do occur. But the hack rate is much lower than when information is stored on company computer systems.
Let’s say you have peak seasons in your business when you need more Cloud storage – say, for example, around the holidays or during tax season. The Cloud makes it easy. You simply pay for the extra space and bandwidth you use without having to upgrade your own equipment.
There is a growing niche for companies that aggregate, analyse, categorize and make sense of the wealth of information “out there” in the Cloud. These firms break down data about consumer shopping and buying habits, a host of demographic categories, public opinion and any other type of information that can be categorized. Then, they translate the data in ways their clients can make use of to sell products and services. These analysts are finding plenty of work in retail, healthcare, government, education, the insurance industry and any other sector that can take advantage of data-driven strategies.
Since your data isn’t stored on your machines but on servers in the Cloud, it remains safe if your computer system gets flooded, fried or otherwise damaged.
Every day, more existing small businesses are moving to the Cloud for storage and for mining the Big Data found in it. There are clearly defined benefits offered by Cloud and Big Data, and if your company isn’t taking advantage of them, perhaps it’s time to reconsider that strategy.
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