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.

Customer Success Stories: Salesforce Data Migration Services for Edgenet

Logo courtesy of http://www.edgenet.com/

Overview

Edgenet is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) company that helps suppliers put their products onto a retailer’s website (i.e. Lowes). Edgenet formats the products in the correct form for the retailer’s to use.

  • # of Employees: 200-500
  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Industry: Computer Software
  • Go Live Date: 6/1/2016
  • Website: http://www.edgenet.com/

Edgenet, a leading computer software company, approached Ad Victoriam Solutions with the need to migrate their current CRM (Zoho) over to a new Salesforce environment. Zoho was not meeting Edgenet’s business process needs due to limited functionality. Salesforce, however, could offer this functionality.

Read this case study to find out how our certified silver Salesforce consultants were able to help.

The Story

In terms of functionality, Zoho as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution just wasn’t cutting it for Edgenet. For starters, they weren’t able to correctly identify the relationships between retailers and suppliers due to the indefinite numbers of how many there were.

When Edgenet discovered that Salesforce had a junction object setup capability, they decided to make the switch. They hired Ad Victoriam to lend a helping hand and ensure a seamless Salesforce data migration.

“Our company has worked with Ad Victoriam over the past 6 months for Salesforce implementation, data migration, and add-on integrations with HubSpot, AskNicely, Eventbrite, GoTransverse, Wave Analytics, TalkDesk, Glance, etc.,” said Dana Becker, Director of Customer Success at Edgenet.

The Challenges

  • Edgenet was unable to track and visualize how their retailers and suppliers connected within their current CRM (Zoho).
  • Zoho had limited reporting and tracking capabilities.
  • Edgenet wanted to connect retailers and suppliers in a more scalable way and gain the ability to add records as they grow. Zoho locked them in place and they couldn’t effectively manage the system.

Our Solutions

By integrating the following solutions, Ad Victoriam sought to address Edgenet’s challenges and concerns:

Sales Cloud Lightning Experience

  • We developed opportunities for Edgenet to track new business and renewals – yearly subscriptions to customers
  • Added greater visibility into “pipeline”
  • Lead conversion over to opportunity
  • Combined objects that had two lookups per account – Retailer lookup and Supplier lookup (account types)

Service Cloud

  • We setup console with quick actions to help increase efficiency
  • Automated email to case setup and configuration that gets sent to multiple queues based on criteria

Community Cloud

  • Created a Customer Community stand-up where retailers can login and notate tickets and issues

Einstein Analytics (Formerly Wave Analytics)

  • We built two dashboards:
    1. Sales Pipeline and Actuals Dashboard (Sales % of quota)
    2. Service Dashboard (Cases tracking)
  • One dashboard was able to provide what multiple reports would do
  • We developed centralized data reporting and apply filters as opposed to going into multiple reports to do that.

Training

  • We performed multiple end-user training sessions to ensure team members understood the value of Salesforce and obtained a competency level they felt comfortable with.

The Value/Results

  • We increased efficiency with Einstein Analytics (formerly Wave Analytics) reporting metrics
  • We implemented better analytics due to lack of reporting functionality in Zoho
  • We deployed quick actions for Service Cloud console in order to accelerate productivity
  • We added visibility into relationships between the supplier and retailers, helping Edgenet better visualize their entire business as whole

According to Becker:

“Our primary contact, David, has been exceptional. Our company is growing quickly, which forces our projects timelines to be tight. David has helped us meet and exceed aggressive dates on complex data and integration projects. He takes the time to train our team on admin tasks so that we can be self-sufficient, which is not common for most consultants. David understands our business model and has provided process and product recommendations that have helped our company (especially sales and support) become more efficient. I would highly recommend Ad Victoriam for any Salesforce-related projects.”

Thank you Dana and the Edgenet team for your kind words. It was our pleasure partnering with you and we look forward to helping your continued success down the road!

If you’d like to see what our Salesforce Gold Partner consultants and data migration experts can do for your business, contact us today.

5 Tips for Creating an Awesome Documentation Process

Let’s be honest…documentation is kind of a drag.

The reality is that documenting a process for Salesforce, big data or IoT can be a daunting task, but more importantly, a necessary evil. Here are some tips I have for becoming a self-proclaimed documentation ROCKSTAR!

Tip #1 – Create a standard naming convention to use for all documents.

Creating a naming convention that is both descriptive and consistent will save users time and frustration when searching for the right document. There isn’t a single right way to name user guides, but developing a system that works for your business is the first step to documentation bliss.

Example: [Company Name] – [Short Description] – [Date (YYYY-MM-DD)]

Tip #2 – Add a descriptive header to each document.

Tell your readers key information at the top of your page by highlighting the topic, date created, version number and author. This will allow for an easy view of the document specs at first glance.

awesome-process-documentation

Tip #3 – Provide users with a high-level visual summary of your process.

According to Hubspot, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

By providing your audience with a visual summary, you can highlight the high-level process before diving into the meat and potatoes. Tools like Lucid Chart allow you to easily create charts and graphs to include in your fabulous documentation.

 decision-maker

Now this is the part where things get REAL…

Tip #4 Provide a clear, informational, concise guide to success.

The most important component of process documentation is a clearly, defined outline of the steps it takes to achieve success. This section should be informational, concise and easy to follow. When working on this section, I like to start by setting the stage for the actual business process – readers will be able to better follow your instruction with a real-life example.

Start with numbering each step and write down the WWWWWH (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) for EACH step.

Keys to Success: Assume your reader has no knowledge of your current system and/or process. Walk through a real-life example and use images to continue with including visuals as described in the third tip.

Tip #5 Provide a resource for readers to get more information.

And finally, it is always a good practice to include a source for more information. Whether it is a link to a webpage, a help video or an email address, let your users know where they can find more information and ask any questions that might arise.

 

That’s all there is to it! Follow these 5 tips to turn your documentation process from awful to awesome. If you’d like more information on how to better manage your company’s Salesforce, big data or IoT documentation, feel free to reach out to the expert cloud solutions team at Ad Victoriam Solutions.

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 big 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 big data 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!

Has IoT Outgrown Big Data?

As the price of technology continues to level off, it’s likely we’ll continue to see an increase in objects that users want connected to the internet. This flood of internet-connected devices will lead to even more information pouring into the system—and the kicker is, experts haven’t even begun to comprehend what to do with all of this information yet.

While more companies are embracing the importance of data analysis, they aren’t necessarily equipped to handle this influx of information. Not only do companies have to filter through the information they normally collect, but now they have to handle all of the information generated both inside and outside of their companies.

Some of the biggest names in the technology world recently met in San Francisco for Structure Data 2016. According to its website, Structure Data “is bringing together the world’s top computer scientists, software executives and business users to discuss how advances in data technology are already reshaping our world.”

Not surprisingly, one of the topics of discussion centered on the next big problem companies are likely to face in terms of the IoT, including:

  • The information generated by devices inside users’ homes
  • The impact the manufacturing sector is likely to feel from increased industrial internet
  • The challenges healthcare will likely face from baby boomers retiring and an influx of self-health apps

The source of these problems stems from how data analysis works. Prior to the IoT boom, once a problem was deduced, a data set was drawn up and loaded into software that analyzes the information. However, the data derived from IoT devices will easily overwhelm this kind of system. Unfortunately, many engineers are stuck in their old habits of how they’ve built data infrastructures in the past, which is unlikely to work for the potential IoT data of the future.

This means that opportunities abound for technological advancements as well as for analysis companies, developers, data scientists and engineers to break into the world of the IoT. While this may give the impression that there are not players in the IoT game already, in actuality some big IoT players are already hard at work.

For more information about the leveraging the Internet of Things for your business, contact the IoT consultants at Ad Victoriam Solutions. Based in Atlanta, we provide innovative and effective technology solutions for businesses all over the country. Speak to an IoT professional today. 

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.

2015: The Year of Big Data

big data

This year has been full of ups and downs, with many looking forward to a brand new start those New Year’s promises. One thing that’s clear: it has been a big year for “big data.” Big data analytics and enterprise solutions have reached new heights in helping businesses run smoothly and efficiently, employing the newest technology for optimal big data storage, security and usage.

Here, we’ll take a quick and dirty look at some of big data’s largest strides in 2015.

The Internet of Things

If 2015 has brought us anything, it’s an abiding affinity for Internet of Things devices: wearable, portable, connected devices that allow individuals to access the Internet anywhere. This translates to those device holders receiving and sending data at a significantly increased pace, giving companies significantly more data to deal with. Big data has had to evolve in order to make sense of this IoT data and make it useful for businesses. Big data analytics and cloud computing are key to making sense of the every-growing wave of IOT data. While the utilization of IoT data is still in the early stages, 2016 promises new software and technologies equipped to handle the ever-growing Internet of Things.

Organization

Not only has this year brought more data, it has given businesses – both big and small – more and better options for organizing big data into useful information to spur on company growth. This is due, in part, to the growing influence of cloud computing and a growing number of software platforms that utilize that power. This software possesses the ability to express a business’s big data information across differing applications and software, making that data more accessible and readily available.

Recognition

Perhaps the largest leap for big data in 2015 has been its increased recognition as a legitimate source of helpful information for businesses. More and more businesses are investing their assets into the collection and analyzing of big data to reach company goals and maximize efficiency.

With further growth in security, faster data collection, and consumer personalization/satisfaction, big data has spent 2015 becoming the key to success for many businesses. As for 2016, the only way to go is up!

Want to increase your business’s utilization of big data analytics? Ad Victoriam Solutions has exactly the expertise you need to get your data working for you! Contact us to learn more about how we can help you succeed.