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Entries in BI (4)

Monday
Jan302012

How to leverage Big Data for your business

Now that we've defined exactly what big data is, the next logical step is to discuss what we can do with it. What's the best way to handle the heaps of data that your business is taking it? Well, it's hard to say but we can talk about the steps necessary to leverage big data for your company thus leading to increased profitably and engagement with the customers. 

Outline goals

Interestingly, this is also the first steps in gathering business analytics. It's just not possible to become a more efficient company when you haven't even really defined what efficiency is. Outline the key indicators for success and then monitor how they are evolving. 

Don't get overwhelmed 

It can be easy to feel intimidated by having to deal with such large quantities of data. However, realize that most of it is actually not beneficial to the company. Once you outline your goals and key metrics, stick to them. A tip to help from getting overwhelmed is to enlist the help of multiple departments. Big data is the domain of everyone from the management to sales to marketing. 

Get the right people and technology

Exactly as it is. Get the right software for gathering the data then invest in employees skilled enough to interpret it. While these may seem like daunting expenses initially, they'll pay off in the long run. 

Finally, be prepared to make changes

Gathering data really serves no purpose if it doesn't influence your business' tactics in any way. Be prepared to make changes to your policy frequently to keep up with the data. 

 

Friday
Jan132012

Saas BI: Pros and Cons

What are the pros and cons of gathering business analytics in the cloud? Let's take a look:

Pros

 

  • Since technology in the cloud doesn't have to be installed and maintained, it frees up more time for the employees to focus on the process of gathering and analyzing business intelligence. 
  • On a similar note, a company can start using SaaS BI technology more quickly since the installation process is bypassed entirely. 
  • Cloud vendors offer cheaper options usually since there isn't a need to purchase software or hardware (however, keep in mind that the cost will depend on the amount of usage).

 

Cons

 

  • Since technology in the cloud is still growing, it may be less complex than on-premise software but also less functional.
  • And of course, there's the always present concerns about security. Many IT professionals worry about the safety of data being sent over IP connections. 

 

Even though the pros slightly outweigh the cons in my analysis, it doesn't necessarily mean that SaaS BI is the right choice for your business. Clearly there are many factors to the considered and it seems to me that the choice will become more clear when cloud technology reaches its full potential. 

Tuesday
Nov152011

Getting Business Intelligence to Users

One of the greatest things about Salesforce is that it frees business users from heavy reliance on IT for information that’s critical to making business decisions.  That’s not so say that IT is not necessary.  It’s merely to say that the advent of sophisticated CRMs like Salesforce, which is a business tool, make accessing intelligent data about the business so much easier and faster.  And in today’s competitive market, those companies that are the most agile and able to quickly react to changes and opportunities are the businesses that will remain strong and see great success.

So what does this all have to do with Salesforce developers?  I’m sure that most of you out there are not only Salesforce developers, but you’re also Salesforce admins as well.  In my experience, the Salesforce admin has, in many ways, replaced IT when it comes to providing the business side of things with business intelligence.  (And frankly, many of you are probably still officially part of the IT team and budget.)  It seems that business users often lack self-sufficiency when it comes to accessing business intelligence from Salesforce CRM.

But Salesforce makes it fairly easy to supply business users with meaningful data.  It all comes down to reports and dashboards and how these things get delivered.  You all know this, of course.   But what I’ve seen in my practice is a disconnect between business users, who typically use Salesforce at the minimum required, and the admin/developer who really knows how to get critical data in and out of the org.  The key is to sit down with business users, and in collaboration with them, define their information needs in detail.  It’s as easy as that.  Once those needs are defined, it’s actually pretty simple to design the reports and dashboards and set them on whatever schedule is needed.

But this is not the end of it.  Certainly there is a core set of reports and dashboards that will benefit business users for years.  But true business intelligence needs to be more agile.  Business users will need to adapt the metrics they use and change key performance indicators.  And as such, those reports and dashboards will need to change.  But with some careful advance planning, and set up that involves all of the stock holders (business users and admin/IT), you can create a flexible system that makes ongoing growth and change so much easier and faster.

 

 

Wednesday
Oct052011

Don’t Forget Your Existing Customers

In these challenging economic times, we’re all a little nervous about sales and revenues.  Many of us have to do more in less time with fewer resources and with tighter budgets.  It’s just a function of the times.  I have confidence that things will get better, but in the meantime, we need to fortify ourselves for weathering the challenges.

As we turn our focus on customer acquisition, how to sell more of our products and services and get our companies growing again, as well as what new features or services we hope will clinch the desired sales, we need to make sure not to take our existing customers for granted.  We cannot take for granted customer loyalty, particularly in the current market.  Remember, our customers are facing the same challenges we are.  They could be lured away by competing products and services, or they could just end their contracts outright.  Perhaps now more than ever, it is vitally important to stay in tune with our customer’s needs, and react appropriate and timely when they need something.

Identifying your key customers can help to make this process more manageable.  Use the analytics of your CRM to rank your customers’ value to you.  Of course, every customer is valuable, but large accounts, accounts with recognizable brands, accounts that participate in forums, case studies, social media that both directly and indirectly benefits the business are key accounts to nurture.

These tasks are easily done through Salesforce’s reporting and dashboards.  Get your admin to help you out.  Based on the information you more than likely already have, you can strategize on how to shore up and build upon existing relationships.