Big Data Analytics: Why More Data Isn’t Always the Answer

big data vs better data

The more the merrier. Bigger is always better. Go big or go home. You’ve heard the sayings. But when it comes to data analytics, these cliches aren’t always the case. Especially with big data.

There’s almost certainly gold mines of data for you to uncover. But when you have a lot of data to manage, your team will have to spend more and more time digging to find it. This isn’t a very efficient process.

When it comes to processing data, this saying applies better: quality over quantity.

What this means is you don’t necessarily need more data, you need better data to analyze.

How to Find Better Data

How does one find information that will help increase your competitive position? That’s the data you need. To aid in the process of figuring out what data is helpful vs. what data is useless, try the following steps:

1. Identify causes of waste in your business

Some waste is an inevitable part of every business. You probably don’t have to rack your brain too hard to come up with a few different sources of waste in yours. Take inventory, for example. Are you ordering too much of something, or ordering something you aren’t using?

Take your time and really think about where waste crops up in your business.

2. Determine what can be automated to reduce waste

Once you’ve identified where inefficiency happens, it’s time to brainstorm how to eliminate or at least minimize it.

If inventory is the problem, how can this process be automated? Any other decisions or sources of waste that are repetitive, simple, operational decisions can likely be automated as well.

For example, a mom-and-pop flower shop can easily know how many flowers to order. Even product pricing decisions can be automated nowadays. So a national gas station store chain can use big data to determine fuel price changes that maximize the company’s profits.

3. Discover what data is needed to accomplish this goal

Now you know your sources of waste. You know how you can solve this problem. So what information do you need in order to make this happen?

Take Uber, for example. They wanted to know where possible riders were in the city so that they could automate decisions that would help efficiently coordinate drivers, which reduced the waste of drivers riding around looking for patrons. This allowed Uber to change the game in their industry.

Do you want to take your business to the next level and be a game changer at your company? Take the necessary step to get the right data, not necessarily more data, and gain a competitive edge. The data analytics and data solutions experts at Ad Victoriam Solutions help you get there.

Contact us today

4 Deeply Insightful Salesforce Metrics Your Company Should Be Using

Businesses that are able to maximize efficiency – accomplishing the most tasks with the least amount of resources (namely time and money) – generally come out on top.

And data and analytics metrics provided by Salesforce CRM is the answer to many businesses’ quests for efficiency. Salesforce metrics  give you the power to manage your big data to make it work for you, leading the charge to your success.

Here are a few of the most important Salesforce metrics a CRM can provide to your business right when you need it.

1. Lead Conversion

Wouldn’t it be nice to see where you may be wasting money and where you’re getting the biggest bang for your IT buck?

The information gathered by the Lead Conversion metric can help ensure that your funds are going towards the marketing efforts which are bringing you the highest return or the most leads. That equates to less time and money wasted.

Additionally, this is key in partner scenarios to enable effective partner relationships while minimizing time on those that do not grow business.

2. Sales Cycle

Speaking of time wasted, do you know the average time it takes to close a deal right now in your organization.

If you’re able to spot areas where it seems that the amount of time put into a sales effort is outweighing the time it takes to close a deal, it may be time to look at and revise your sales cycle processes.

Additionally, detecting and minimizing leakage at varying points in the Sales Cycle is key to determining appropriate sales opportunity velocity and indicators that may keep fewer deals from being lost.

Salesforce analytics can show you this data quickly and drive actionable insights that are business-appropriate.

3. Pipeline

Understanding the sales funnel is key for forecasting and tracking performance of your business. It’s therefore important to be able to easily measure and communicate pipeline trends, and Salesforce’s pipeline metrics allow you to do just that.

Salesforce supports both weighted and unweighted pipeline to give you additional insight as well as support for annualized revenue as pipeline.

Using the pipeline, you can track your lead nurturing efforts, and see if they’re working.

4. Open Opportunities

As you track your leads through the pipeline, it’s also good to know how many leads you may be juggling at once. The Open Opportunities metric will let you know that number.

Salesforce natively allows you to segment this on stage, last activity, probability, and owner. This allows for quick insights into the pipeline health, areas for focus (both for potential and coaching) and gamification through leaderboards to promote effective sales behaviors in accordance with key business strategies.

For more information on the many other Salesforce metrics in your CRM and other data analytics solutions for enterprises, contact Ad Victoriam Solutions.

Why Business Intelligence (BI) Tools Matter

Business Intelligence Blog

Even with companies using a tool like Salesforce® to house a majority of their business processes, there are always other pieces of data that live outside of Salesforce. Business intelligence tools can help.

Business Intelligence (BI) tools allow organizations to bring together multiple data sources into one centralized location.  This means that now we can connect all of your systems together and find actionable insights between them.  These tools offer powerful data visualizations that set them apart from standard CRM reports and dashboard capabilities.  These tools are also built to handle large quantities of data, and because of that they are able to handle millions of records lightning fast.

Reasons Why business intelligence Matters

Save time

As a big fan of automation inside the workplace, the amount of Excel-based reports and dashboards that have to be crunched and reported weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly is too high.  Everything that we are doing in Excel can be automated with a Business Intelligence tool.  I have seen many manual Excel reports and dashboards built into a Business Intelligence tool, like Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics, become completely automated and save days or weeks of manual Excel work every year.

Act faster

Now that we don’t have to wait days or weeks for a report to be built, you can act swiftly on your data.  Your analytics are at the tip of your fingers and in some cases, like with Wave, on your phone.  With advanced filtering options, you’re able to quickly and easily view your data through many different perspectives.  You can quickly filter your whole dashboard by a particular sales rep, region, or product.  Or maybe you want to change the dashboard from year to date to this quarter.  Whatever it might be, these tools make those filters easier than ever before.

Analyze data

Now that we have just freed up an individual or team from having to build a time-consuming Excel report, what are we to do with all of this extra time?  Analyze the data!  You can begin to look at the data in your system through a different lens.  As you dive deeper in your data, you’ll find other insights that are beneficial to the company.

Insights into data quality

As you are analyzing and building out your dashboards with a business intelligence tool, you will find that there might be some gaps in your data.  These gaps are often related to missing or inaccurate data.  As you begin to use different insightful dashboards that were previously near impossible or too time-consuming to build, you can start to see some gaps in your data.  These gaps usually bring up the idea of implementing a Data Governance team inside your organization.

For further insight into leveraging BI tools like Salesforce to boost workplace automation in your business, contact us at Ad Victoriam Solutions for answers.

3 Innovative Ways Big Data is Bringing the Future Into the Present

artificial intelligence: AVS data & analytics blog

Since cloud computing emerged on the business scene, the technology has grown exponentially. Along with this unprecedented growth, there has emerged a new way of thinking about technology. One such change revolves around big data.

Here are a three examples of how innovative big data solutions are working to advance our society and businesses:

1. Machine Learning

The concept of machine learning – the algorithms that make it possible for computers to essentially learn through experience – are becoming more and more sophisticated. As data technology advances, we should expect deep neural nets (DNNs) to become used more frequently.

DNN describes when machine learning advances to the point where algorithms can mimic nonlinear relationships, which is a fancy way of saying machines have the ability to acknowledge the environment they’re in. Siri and Cortana are the predecessors which could one day give life to full-on autonomous agents.

2. Developing a Better Grasp On Big Data

Big data has become a fixture for many businesses who want to glean information from consumer trends, and it is continuing to advance. While the goal for big data remains the same—being able to analyze and interpret the data sets – developers are creating new tools to help make the process easier and allow the data to be used in more sophisticated ways. This includes making it possible for non-tech savvy employees to analyze and interpret big data and allowing for it to be analyzed using machine learning.

3. Software for Recognizing Emotions

Robots have always been fascinating. As our technology is advancing, we are able to produce increasingly advanced robots. Intelligent robots are at the forefront of this way of thinking. For instance, Apple has purchased a startup, Emotient, which provides for emotional analysis in real time. Apple also made a recent purchase of Faceshift, a company known for facial recognition software. This leads experts to feel an emotional aspect to mobile devices is in the not too distant future. And big data technology will power it all.

Big data is just the tip of the iceberg of technological advances that are likely to occur in our lifetime! To bring your business up to speed with the many exciting changes in the world of cloud computing technology, consult the big data experts at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

The Commoditization of the Data Warehouse

These are exciting times in the data and analytics world! The last couple of years have seen a surge in technologies and offerings that bring big-time data and analytics into reach for most companies. No longer isolated to Fortune-500 data powerhouses with multi-million dollar project budgets, “Big Data” and Data Warehousing are becoming a commodity thanks to the cloud and innovators such as AWS and Microsoft.

PaaS: In the Beginning…

It all started with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions such as Redshift from AWS, Microsoft’s Azure SQL Data Warehouse as well as IBM’s DashDB Enterprise, among others. These solutions promise Petabyte scale capability and pricing that makes them a viable solution for many startups and mid-market companies needing advanced data capabilities with a minimum of IT infrastructure and cost.

We continue to recommend these solutions to our customers that are RDBMS-savvy and have SQL skills in-house that they want to leverage.

SaaS: The Next Evolution

The next evolution was to Software-as-a-Services (SaaS) solutions such as Snowflake Computing’s Elastic Data Warehouse and Cazena. These solutions further lower the IT infrastructure and skillset cost required to achieve big-time analytics capabilities.

Additionally, they drive a more seamless analytics experience by bringing non- and-semi-structured data and traditional structured data together in a cohesive solution. These solutions also drive a more elastic model, allowing businesses to scale and shrink their solution on-demand as their business and analytics needs change over time. They manage the resources behind the solution with a minimum of IT resources required, while consolidating an array of best-in-breed technologies to simplify the “data ecosystem.”

As Hadoop offerings continue to progress, they are also figuring heavily into the data ecosystems. Many providers, such as AWS and Microsoft, offer cloud-based solutions that can be near-seamlessly integrated into more structured data warehouses and ecosystems. On-premise solutions from Cloudera, Hortonworks and others give companies that require non-cloud solutions options as well. The performance and tools such as Spark and Yarn are broadening the use-cases for Hadoop and improving the performance of processing and querying against non-structured data.

Integration: Greater Accessibility

Finally, integration solutions for the data warehouse are becoming even more accessible and easy to use. A great example is Microsoft Azure’s Logic Apps. These solutions allow simple integrations and control-flow to be developed in a cost-effective model with lower technical expertise requirements. Typical infrastructure considerations for connectivity to systems still apply, but the ability to deliver batch and near real-time integrations between common applications and/or data sources using pre-built integration connectors is growing rapidly.

Conclusion

All this means more options for companies and solution providers, at the right scale, skill-set and price. These are exciting times indeed, as we can now deliver data and analytics solutions with greater fit and value than ever before. Contact us and we'll connect you with a data solutions specialist. 

Stepping Stones Toward a Data Governance Framework, Part I

Salesforce administrators play a special role in companies: you have the opportunity to bring teams together to focus on what is most important to them – the customer.

Just one problem – How can we focus on the customer if we don’t know who the customer is?

You would be surprised how many companies cannot easily pull a list of their customers from Salesforce because of poor data quality. If this pain is all too real, let us help you. After years of research, meetings, Dreamforce® sessions, not to mention trial & error, we can get you pointed in the right data quality direction.

Step 1: Do your Homework

You are not going to be able to solve this issue yourself, but before your company dedicates resources to the data quality problem, you need proof that one exists. Let’s look at some tools to help you build your business case…

Data Analysis

There are a number of apps on the AppExchange® that can be used to run an analysis of your Salesforce data. Use an app, like Data.com Assessment, to capture important metrics needed to call your company to action. How many records are duplicated or incomplete? If the results aren’t enough to make your stakeholders scream, try converting the numbers into dollars. This slide deck, The Cost of Bad & Clean Data by RingLead, will help you put the problem in terms your stakeholders will understand.

 

Data.com Assessmeent dashboard: Ad Victoriam Solutions Data & Analytics Blog

Field Trip

Qandor™’s Field Trip, a free app on the AppExchange, will show how often your Salesforce fields are populated. Based on your results, group fields into three buckets: keep, investigate, remove. If a field is populated 70% or more, keep the bucket. If a field is populated 30%-70% of the time, investigate bucket. If it is less than 30% populated, remove bucket. Don’t go deleting fields now, remember we are just gathering selling points. We will discuss what to do with these field buckets in other sections.

Field Trip report: Ad Victoriam Solutions Data & Analytics Blog

Ride Along

To understand data challenges, it is best to step into the end user’s shoes. You may not realize the content needed for a required field isn’t discussed in the first phone call, that the right pick list value isn’t available, or that the field name is confusing. Choose a handful of end users, in varying roles and skill levels, and observe how they use Salesforce. Ask the following questions:

  • What was the flow of their customer interaction?
  • What steps are cumbersome in the system?
  • What steps are easy that you could use elsewhere?
  • Did they use fields from the investigate bucket? Why or why not?

Finally, make sure to capture the opinion an end user has about using Salesforce.

Now, let’s pull together what we have learned to present a business case. First, show them the results from your data and Field Trip analysis to prove there is a problem with your data. Second, make recommendations to improve using your bucketed fields and ride along results.

data quality analysis: Ad Victoriam Solutions Data & Analytics Blog

In Part 2 of our blog series, we will discuss the next step on how to build your team of cross-functional data heroes that will be critical to your data quality success. Stay tuned!

3 Ways the Internet of Things Will Change Businesses

Whether or not you think you understand the Internet of Things (IoT), you’ve most likely familiarized yourself with it already. How, you may ask? If you own a FitBit (or any type of wearable that works alongside your smartphone) or another piece of “smart” technology (like an alarm system or thermostat)—you are a citizen of the IoT. If you don’t have one of these gadgets, chances are that within five years you will.

Use of the IoT is growing rapidly, and the trend is likely to continue. As a result, businesses (including those that churn out new gadgets) will continue to incorporate the IoT into their products. Experts feel that the IoT will work to change businesses in three major ways.

#1: Businesses will produce better products

What we really mean by “better” in this case is smarter. Cell phones are a prime example of this. Until roughly 10 years ago, the only expectation we had for phones was the ability to make and receive calls. Today, however, we expect them to be everything from our alarm clock to our calendar to our source of knowledge and entertainment. As the IoT continues to change our everyday lives, we’ll also start to become comfortable with the idea that these devices have the ability to control things like yoga mats and frying pans, and savvy businesses will jump on board this growing trend by producing integrated technology products at a faster rate than ever before.

#2: Data will lead to smarter decisions

While the newest smart devices are impressive, the real stars of the show are the sensors that make it all possible. Companies are now making sensors that can send back data by being attached to anything from an aircraft engine to a yogurt cup. The data gleaned from these sensors can (and will) be used to help make the products we use better in the future.

#3: Business will begin to evolve

Chances are, the IoT will begin changing the very models on which businesses are created – in fact, it already has begun. One such example is John Deere. John Deere has long been known for its tractors and other farm equipment. The company is now incorporating big data connectivity to its machines to allow farmers to keep track of their farm digitally.

The Internet of Things is bringing many technological changes to the world. In order to keep up with the changes or to help incorporate the IoT into your business, you’ll need the expertise and knowledge of an IoT consultant at Ad Victoriam Solutions to help get you on track. Contact us today to discuss your needs with us.

How IoT is Revolutionizing Healthcare

innovation technologies

The recent rise in the popularity of fitness technology (i.e. smart watches and Fitbits) is beginning to show the impact that the “internet of things” (IoT) is having on the healthcare industry. However, these devices are only the beginning of how technology is revolutionizing healthcare.

As it stands, any medical device that allows for the transfer of data – including data hubs, communication networks, microprocessors, etc. – is a driving force behind the intersection of IoT and the healthcare system. Given that confidential patient data is the connecting piece of the puzzle, privacy concerns and constraints remain a hot topic; however, the healthcare industry is still interested in exploring any opportunities to make the IoT work for them.

The ultimate goals of IoT integration in healthcare are to cut costs, ensure the ill/injured are cared for properly, and make healthcare professionals more efficient.

While those inside the healthcare industry seek to find ways to incorporate the IoT, patients are taking their health into their own hands. A rising tide of people are using wearable fitness products, apps and sensors to collect and analyze their medical information. Many industry experts feel that this is an essential first step in the direction of integrating this patient data seamlessly into the healthcare system.

As the rates of IoT-Healthcare technology use continue to climb, these types of IoT projects are only beginning. There is no shortage of ideas on how to incorporate IoT into the medical field and what’s better is that several leading enterprise technology companies stand ready to help.

With the backing of Ad Victoriam Solutions, an Atlanta-based IT strategy consulting firm, the healthcare facilities that wish to participate in IoT will be able to make themselves much more efficient and competitive. Additionally, they’ll have the option to easily share information, which will help increase patient quality of care, improve both internal and external communications, and more efficiently track medical supplies.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways IoT can be used to improve the daily operations of those in the medical field. Only time will tell what else will be dreamed up.

For more information about leveraging IoT technology for your business or practice, contact the big data consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions. You can read up on the 3 Major Players in the IoT Space: Salesforce®Microsoft and AWS.

Will Changing Wi-Fi Standards Help Utilize IoT Better?

Wi-Fi has certainly presented its share of problems – namely the ever-present threat of a shoddy connection and speeds that aren’t necessarily compatible with the connected devices that so many business and individuals are beginning to use on a daily basis.

Fortunately, there may be a solution on the horizon for connecting the Internet of Things with Wi-Fi that works with IoT devices hand-in-hand.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is a nonprofit organization that focuses on making Wi-Fi easier to access and use around the globe. They’ve recently announced a new technology called HaLow which promises to increase the capability of Wi-Fi to connect with lower powered IoT devices, particularly in the home.

This capability is to be done by not only extending the range of the Wi-Fi, but decreasing the bandwidth to 9000MHz, a level that takes less battery power and is a sharp jump down from the typical 2.4GHz or 5GHz that most people have in their home routers.

According to Brian Barrett, “It’s Wi-Fi for smartwatches and Internet-enabled coffee makers and whatever other connected appliance might suit your deranged fancy.”

The past solution to connecting these small devices has been Bluetooth; however, HaLow sets out to solve the limitations presented by this solution like short range and the inability to connect devices directly to the Internet.

What does this mean for business?

The Internet of Things provides a constant stream of usable data that businesses can use for analytics and decision-making within their company. The IoT provides valuable information on consumer feedback and product utilization. With this new Wi-Fi option, IoT devices are going to be working even better than before, providing the important data that businesses crave and giving an even more reliable picture.

To learn more about the Internet of Things and how it can help grow your business, contact one of our data & analytics specialists today. Also, continue browsing our blog regularly for updates on the latest technologies and capabilities!

Cognitive Computing and the Internet of Things

brain

The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly growing across various sectors of technology commonly used today, especially in terms of cognitive computing. As we’ll explore below, IoT is already being used in the medical field, retail outlets and event management.

IoT and Medical Tech

Implanted medical devices are saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Wouldn’t it be even better if the data collected from the devices could be processed along with other medical data to help improve cognitive insights?

The FDA is working to do just this by developing a system for medical devices that have unique identifiers. Once these devices are implemented, each will have a unique device identifier (UDI), which will be readable both in machine and human form. The hopes are that a UDI system will make patients safer and that there will be an innovation boom.

IoT and Retail

The IoT is also helping to revolutionize the retail industry by facilitating better communication between customers and venders. Studies show that weather can have a huge impact on a person’s shopping habits—it can dictate whether a person goes shopping as well as the products they chose to purchase. If retailers could have a better idea of the weather conditions at each store location, they could better prepare their stock and do so in a more personalized fashion.

IoT and Event Management

Event management can also benefit from the IoT. Take Oktoberfest, for example, which draws in crowds of roughly 6 million each year. By incorporating IoT into this popular festival, event organizers would be able to implement more creative serving methods and keep track of attendees more efficiently. Recent implementation of bracelets with IoT location information can manage crowd control and keep festival goers safer.

Additionally, two inventors have developed an innovative table and coaster system that uses sensors to track how many times patrons lift their beer mugs. This data is then relayed to waiters who are able to refill beer just as the mugs are emptied.

All of this data is made possible by the Internet of Things.

It’s obvious that the IoT will continue to grow in the coming years. The IoT consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions can help you stay abreast of the changes coming to IoT platforms. Contact us, or check out our blog for further information on big data, the Internet of Things and much more.