Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Information on Big Data: Why People Haven’t Adopted Data In Their Business

Information on Big Data:  Why people don’t want to look at data.

Information on Big DataCan I be frank here?  We’ve been told for years now that data is the future, yet SO MANY businesses refuse to embrace it like they should.  I see it left and right in this line of work and I’m realizing that there are a lot of reasons why… and they have nothing to do with numbers.

Data is scary.

Data is confusing, overwhelming, and scary sometimes.  If you’re not a numbers person, data feels literally like someone is speaking Russian to you.  We know it’s confusing.  Let’s just start there with that understanding.  IT. IS. CONFUSING. But that’s why we’re here.  We speak the language of data and we also speak English too.  If you know you need data in your business strategy, a team like ours is great because we’ll help translate the data into digestible chunks that you can actually understand.

Don’t wanna face the music…

Frankly, I think this is one of the biggest reasons why people ignore data analytics for their business:  they simply don’t want to face the music.  They’re scared the data may show that they’ve mismanaged their business or that they could’ve been doing something better. Why are we so scared to name our flaws?  We’ll tell you, we’ve made mistakes along the way, and by knowing our weak spots we’ve been able to improve instead of recycle mistake after mistake.

Cost

Data analytics and business intelligence are definitely investments in your business.  The fact is, up until the last year or two, data was too expensive for most small and mid size companies. While it’s attainable, it’s not going to be dirt cheap, and if someone is offering dirt cheap, I guarantee, you’ll get what you paid for and be paying more in the long run.

Realize this, though, data analytics reports can help you streamline your operation so that you know who to target, where to target, how to eliminate wasteful services, hire smarter, and more.  All of these things can add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars in many situations.  When you consider the potential savings that BI and data services can provide, your original investment usually pays for itself multiple times over.  Don’t let original proposals cloud the anticipated rewards you’ll get over time, not to mention the basic foundations of data collection or organization that you’ll get as a result too.

Pride…AKA Ego

We come across a lot of egos in business, but please, please, please, don’t let your ego get in the way of making smart decisions.  You may think you know your business better than anyone or anything, but we’ve always been able to shed new light with the help of data.  Even those who think they know all find out new insights from doing data analysis within their business.  Business is done very differently today than it was even fifteen years ago.  Don’t let old-school methods of business cloud your judgment to think you don’t need data in your business model.

Too New

While data feels new, it’s really not that new.  Businesses have been utilizing data analytics, BI, data warehousing, and more for years already.  But, within many industries and brackets of businesses, it “feels” very new.  Just like website felt new too twenty-five years ago and now are an essential tool, data “feels” very new but is really an essential tool for your business. Don’t make the mistake of implementing data too late.

I know I probably hit a sore spot for you because most people fall into one, or all, or these reasons.  My heart is truly that business owners understand what they need in order to be successful in business and data is the key to that.  I’d encourage you to recognize your own reasons why you have been hesitant to use data to grow your business.  Recognizing it will help you understand what mindset shifts need to happen in order to be successful working with a data analytics company or BI solutions company.

What is Artificial Intelligence? And Why Should Business Owners Care?

How AI is changing business today and tomorrow:

What is artificial intelligence?When you first think of AI, we know you’re picturing a robotic creature swirling around an office.  And while some robots have entered our lives (thank you Roomba!) most AI we experience is actually not easy to physically “see.”  Artificial intelligence is largely found within algorithms and software that is already making our lives easier, and we haven’t even realized it!  AI is loosely defined. The AI we are experiencing today is a only a glimpse of what is to come.

What is artificial intelligence?

First off, I always like to give some basics because terms like artificial intelligence are so new to our vocabulary.  Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the “simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.” AI is characterized by having learning capabilities, reasoning skills, and self-correction capabilities.  The systems do this by acquiring information and following a set of rules as to how to use that information.

By now, hopefully, you’re picturing your smartphone or a computer screen more than you’re picturing a giant robot when you think of AI.  AI is already all around us and is already changing how we do business, but there’s still a lot to come.  Here’s a preview of what we’ll see AI do in the workplace:

  1. Automation of Simple Tasks.  Artificial intelligence has already allowed us to simplify simple tasks that are mundane and routine.  If there are set rules or parameters that a program can follow and repeat, AI could be employed to do that task for you.  Things like research for legal discovery on cases, for example, is a great task that is routine within certain rules and can then allow attorneys to focus on the complex parts of a case, rather than just research. Another example of automation is how EnergizeMail’s tool will learn from your habits and automatically file emails based on your unique user habits, saving you precious hours to drive more business instead of filing emails.
  2. Virtual Assistance.  We’re already seeing virtual assistants help us out with simple tasks when we talk to Siri or Alexa.  These programs help us find the nearest gas station or the highest rated restaurant nearby.  These types of programs will only become more relevant, accurate, and helpful as time goes on and the programs get perfected.  Scheduling, reserving meeting rooms, and finding the perfect gifts for clients are tasks that often make up full time positions, and many of these tasks will soon be automated with virtual programs.
  3. Informed Tasks.  Artificial Intelligence utilizes crazy amounts of data and information to make their decisions, which means that the more we incorporate AI tools into our business day, the more educated decisions we’ll be making.
  4. Efficient Solutions.  AI has the ability to incorporate massive amounts of data and organize it in a way that gives you essential information.  So, for example, an IT department would be able to get a comprehensive look at a specific user’s problem and know exactly what is going on before ever heading down to their machine to fix a problem.  The physical back and forth that IT departments know all too well is eliminated, providing efficient solutions and improving efficiency!

This is just scratching the surface of what AI can, and most likely WILL, do in our business environments.  AI will make us more efficient employees and more stimulated employees who are using our expertise and brain capacity to their fullest extent.  We won’t be spending as much time on mundane tasks that waste time and don’t produce results.  Instead, our businesses will be able to focus on growth and truly maximizing our expertise to benefit our clients.  Now, isn’t that a fun thought?!

What Is Data Warehousing and Why It Matters

What Is Data Warehousing
Let’s say your company wanted to collect and store all the data generated by customer activity and everyday business operations. Where would you store your data? You probably want to store it on a computer in one of your offices. On-site data storage is fairly secure… but is on-site data storage up for the task?

Think of all the big data that could be collected by your company: transaction details, call information, customer service details, purchase orders, shipping information, CRM task management, and the list goes on and on. The sheer volume of data generated by a business with a seven-figure annual revenue is more than a single computer can store on site. If you’re wanting to collect and store data for your business, I recommend looking at data warehousing.

 

Data Warehousing Basics

Data warehousing (DW or DWH for short) is “a technology that aggregates structured data from one or more sources so that it can be compared and analyzed for greater business intelligence.” It’s worth clarifying that data warehousing is not intended for immediate data recall, like a standard operational database.

Data warehouses are designed to collect and store massive amounts of data for long-term structure and access. Think of data warehousing like renting a storage unit at Public Storage or SmartStop. You probably don’t have your storage unit as organized as you like, but it’s safe, secure, and there when you need to pull out something valuable.

Data warehousing essentially gives your business all the storage space it needs to aggregate data from any relevant source. Why does this matter? Is data warehousing that important to your business? It may not seem like a mountain of unsorted data is important now, but I promise, you will be thankful for your stored data in the coming years.

What Does Data Warehousing Allow Your Business To Do?

The best decisions in business are based on empirical evidence, such as data contained in client surveys, purchase trends, year-to-date cash flow markers, and more. Data warehousing gives your company the necessary fuel to feed a data aggregator, such as a CRM algorithm, to identify money-saving or sales-generating trends in the future. Want to know what’s your most profitable week of business each year over the past ten years? Transaction and customer activity recorded and stored in your data warehouse can give you unprecedented insight to start answering that question.

Businesses are just starting to scratch the surface of data’s reach and potential. At the heart of implementing stored data is business intelligence. CIO defines business intelligence as the following:

Business intelligence, or BI, is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.”

Business intelligence is empowering businesses with exact insight to ignite intentional growth into the future. When future economic trends start affecting entire industries, businesses who leverage their stored data for business action will have an immediate competitive advantage. What does this mean for your business?

Imagine having the ability to mine any volume of data for lost transactions. You could also extract any criteria of business activity to capitalize on new opportunities. What if your business could open up a new market sector just by using previously stored data? The right amount of data can also give you a reliable 360-degree perspective of your business and all personnel making an impact on your success.

Data integration allows you to build complete profiles for hyper-accurate marketing campaigns. Reducing ad waste will allow your sales and marketing personnel to start with optimal marketing-qualified leads. This means you’re not spending time talking with people who are not good fits for your company’s buyer profile. Better leads means a higher likelihood of maximizing sales from the first conversation.

Business intelligence curated from stored data in your data warehouse allows your company to understand how and where your staff spends their time. How often does a certain client call each month? How many emails does it take for the average prospect to convert their interest into confirmed sales? The ability to know how much each client (and each of your team members) is costing you provides clear-cut data to make the best business decision. Wouldn’t you rather know which team members are pulling their weight and which are not?

Data Ready To Use

All of these benefits are possible simply because you have the data at your disposal. No data warehouse, no opportunity to leverage data to increase dollars. If your business is not using data to make intelligent, concrete decisions, you will be left assuming what you’re doing is working well enough.

NEO can consolidate, integrate, and organize your enterprise’s data in a meaningful way with custom database warehousing and architecture solutions. Database architecture solutions mean we can build the right data warehouse for you with the right criteria to tag the appropriate data as it comes into storage. We work with a variety of data solutions, such as: SQL, MySQL, noSQL NEO4J, Big Data Solutions (example: Hadoop), and more.

We work with you and your team to help you know how to access your data from your system. If sorting through an entire data warehouse sounds daunting, we also have self-service business intelligence (BI) solutions to give you a simpler way to search your data.

The first step is starting a conversation about data collection and storage. We help you answer big questions, such as the following and more:

  • “How much data do I need to store for my business?”
  • “How frequently do I need to access my data warehouse?”
  • “How secure is my business data warehouse?”

Click here to schedule your initial consultation with our NEO team. We are a Denver business intelligence firm built to help your business build a profitable relationship with data. We can help you collect data intentionally to power intelligent business growth.

7 Simple Steps to Tracking Business Data

How Can Small Businesses Use Data?

What sets ‘Ma and Pop’ grocery stores apart from nationwide grocery chain stores?

How Can Small Businesses Use DataIt’s the feeling you get when you walk in and the produce manager yells a greeting to you by name. It’s the familiarity of having your cashier ask about your Golden Retriever and when they might see you at the dog park again. It’s that level of connection that keeps you coming back every other Saturday morning for groceries, even though you drive past two regional grocery chain stores with cheaper prices and more convenient access.

One of the biggest value differentiators for small businesses is being able to truly know their customers. Data is now allowing global businesses the same opportunity to deliver a personalized experience. Small businesses are facing stiff competition in this arena and you don’t have the margins to compete on price.

Location-Based Data

Location-based data specific to consumers is arguably the treasure trove of tomorrow’s business. The ability to track, document, and analyze a person’s driving habits, commuter routes, demographics, consumer locales, and time frames for all of these recorded activities is priceless to businesses. GPS-tracking is being used regularly in every smartphone around the world.  Geo-tracking is the ability to track any device in real time, such as Pokémon. We have expanded geo-tracking into wearables, browsers, kiosks, and other user-friendly technology.

Imagine a world where you’re standing on a street corner and a city bus passes in front of you with a personalized ad for a piece of clothing that fits your style and the coming season. This experience is possible because your phone is sharing your geolocation, social media profile, and other data in real time. This is the reality of today.

Business-Generated Data

It’s virtually impossible for any of us to stay current with all the potential data that’s generated for our businesses, let alone our personal lives. An estimated 90 percent of all data generated is unstructured, including photos on your smartphone, social media interactions, customer transaction trends, and more. Data overload is also a side effect of our current reality. While this is a challenge, it can be solved and turned into great profit.

Become a Client Whisperer…

Data allows you to be a client whisperer. The right data points help you see client needs before your client ever realizes the need is there. If you’re a financial advisor, knowing that a client is due with their first baby in October means you may want to track when the delivery is so you can send a congratulations card, a piggy bank, and information about setting up a college fund. This is turning data into real-life, profit-driving action.

Track The Effect Of Any Changes

The second part of making data-driven changes is tracking the effect of your changes on your business success. What is the impact of eliminating a specific time frame for client appointments? Were the select few clients who were available during that time frame also available at another time frame? Of the potentially affected clients, what is the value and social influence of each of those clients on the rest of your client base?

Make the changes, analyze the impact of those changes, and then make additional changes or confirmation from your analyses. This is a fluid process focused on optimal output based on your goals and objectives.

Tracking how your business operates down to the minutest detail creates market separation. Maintaining as much actionable data as possible on every one of your clients helps personalize your client interactions. Knowing what effect data-driven changes are having on your everyday operations and bottom-line revenue is what keeps businesses like yours ahead of global competitors.

How to start tracking business data

We know the importance of data and how it is shaping tomorrow… now what?

Step 1: Decide what data you would like to gather. I live by the concept that the more data, the better. I like to gather data on the following information at the core: contact information, personal information, social media information, web usage data, communication preferences, demographic data, hobbies and interests, family makeup, business data, consumer buying data, and any other data that would be helpful for your business. For example, a law firm needs to know the names of all of your beneficiaries and contact information.

Step 2: Collect as much data as possible. When I say collect, I don’t mean collecting data in your head. Gather data using a central system, like a CRM, that can integrate with the rest of your technologies.

Step 3: Engage in data cleanup and organization. While this might seem like a basic task, nothing could be further from the truth. If you talk to Data Scientists or Data Geeks, they will tell you the most time spent in the data world is on cleanup and organization. In fact, many say that 80% of their time is spent working with data on cleanup.

Step 4: Ask questions. What questions do you need or want to answer? What decision are you in the midst of needing to make? Do you need to hire more staff? Build out more space? Develop a new product? Change the hours you are open? Get rid of one product so you can focus on another product? Those are just a few of the questions that data can help you answer, providing you the clarity and peace of mind you need. You need to know you have all the information possible to understand the impact of any decision you make.

Step 5: Summarize and visualize the data. We are summarizing our data and reporting on it in this step. In other words, if we want to know how much revenue we did last year in September versus this year in September, we should have a report that clearly shows us that information.

Step 6: Identify actionable insights. Once we have summarized the data, we now use the data to provide actionable insights. We did some consulting for a dental practice that was considering if it was time to expand their space. After looking at the summary data, we found that while they were close to capacity, the type of patients they were serving wasn’t in line with their ideal patient. So, instead of building out more space, they first needed to focus their efforts on finding more of their ideal patients. We were able to provide clarity using data to make actionable insights.

Step 7: Implement advanced analytics and modeling. Being a data geek, this is one of my favorite parts of this whole process. While summary data and actionable insights are extremely helpful in providing us clarity and peace of mind, advanced analytics and modeling is what can propel us into innovation. In the previous story of the dental practice looking for more ideal patients, we developed a model that would help schedule appointments based on an algorithm we developed.

The purpose here is to not only provide actionable insights but also make it as easy as possible for the company to focus its efforts in the most direct way possible. This occurs while gaining valuable insights and improving automatically along the way. Automatically?… How is that possible? We can make baseline assumptions through machine learning and modeling and then let the data tell us how accurate we are and suggest any modifications into our models. This process is fascinating to say the least.

This article is an excerpt from NEO founder Jesse Morris’ new book Data and the World of Today: The Reality of Today that will Impact your Business Tomorrow. Purchase your copy via Amazon.com.

Artificial Intelligence Is Literally Changing Lives

d

Artificial Intelligence: I know I mention this as a topic and your thought immediately goes to the movie Terminator: droids that are built to look, act, and sound like humans who are intent on taking over the world. Don’t worry, droids taking over the world probably won’t happen any time soon.

What is closer than we might realize is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our everyday world.

How Artificial Intelligence Will Change The FutureThe concept has been growing for years, but it’s never been closer to reality than today. Artificial Intelligence is finally living up to its potential. It’d be helpful to know what we’re talking about when it comes to Artificial Intelligence.

As silly as it may sound, ‘artificial’ may not be as clearly understood as it seems, and also, ‘intelligence’ may have different levels of expectation from each of us. The human brain as the home of natural intelligence is, of course, the birthplace of artificial intelligence. The human brain experiences a cacophony of electrical activity that translates into motor movement, spoken and nonverbal communication, situational processing, and at the very basic level, our ‘fight or flight’ response.

A Story of a Monkey and AI Changing Lives

Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, Professor of Neuroscience at Duke University (Durham, NC), became fascinated with ‘brain storms’: electrical activity caused by neurons firing between the more than 100 million cells in the human brain. Dr. Nicolelis’ research recorded this neural activity and decoded the neurons as a sort of alphabet to communicate with extensions and devices outside the body.

Dr. Nicolelis and his team developed a Brain Machine Interface from 2000 to 2001 with a multi-channel sensor system to receive the electrical communication from the brain. The receptor system then processed the electrical signals as part of real-time analysis of brain activity. The sensors are designed to specifically look for any signals that are connected to motor movement: raising an arm, shifting a foot, flexing fingers, or even standing up from a seated position.

Any motor movement information was then sent through a telemetry processor to a 3D artificial limb, such as a robotic arm. But the question remained, how well did the translation of the motor movement work, from the brain’s electrical impulse to the robotic arm? Dr. Nicolelis’ team started experimenting with a rhesus monkey named Aurora in early 2003. The research team monitored and recorded Aurora’s brain activity while playing a simple computer game with a joystick. If Aurora completed a basic challenge in the game, she received an automated drip of Brazilian orange juice as her reward.

Aurora’s ‘brain storms’ were uploaded to a robotic arm using the Brain Machine Interface so the computer and a robotic arm could begin learning Aurora’s impulse and motions to play the same game. When Dr. Nicolelis’ research team switched to the Brain Machine Interface after thirty days, Aurora was able to simply think of the direction to move the sensor in the computer game and the robotic arm responded based on her brain activity.

Two Monkeys Changing The World

In a similar situation, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University experimented with two macaques monkeys in using robotic arms to eventually establish brain control over an artificial appendage. The scientists identified 100 motor neurons that a computer analyzed in their electrical activity and translated the neural activity into an electronic command to move the robotic arm. The arms were mounted flush with the macaques’ left shoulders and the computer initially helped the monkeys move the robotic arm to help establish motion control.

As the monkeys learned to adopt the movements, the research team noticed an adaptation of movement that could not be anticipated in virtual environments. The testing results show the brain’s amazing ability to adopt, adjust, and use a prosthetic appendage based solely on the brain’s motor activity fired in a specific area of the cortex. Dr. John F. Kalaska, neuroscientist at the University of Montreal, after seeing the macaques’ progress, noted that, “[Brain-activated prosthetic limb adoption] would allow patients with severe motor deficits to interact and communicate with the world not only by the moment-to-moment control of the motion of robotic devices, but also in a more natural and intuitive manner that reflects their overall goals, needs and preferences.”

So, if the brain is capable of creating the right type of data to control a prosthetic limb, could the brain control more than one prosthetic limb at a time? Dr. Nicolelis and his research team posed that same question while continuing to study Aurora’s ‘brain storms’. The difference is that Aurora was controlling a single robotic arm over 7,000 miles away at Kyoto University in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. The control signal between Aurora’s brain and the robotic arm at Kyoto University was registered at 20 milliseconds faster than the brain signal between her brain and other muscles in her body.

The Duke University research team added a second monkey to their experiment… and a second robotic arm for both monkeys. Implants in the monkeys’ brains tracked and translated between 374 to 497 motor-controlling neurons to send the appropriate signal to the robotic arms. The two rhesus monkeys have successfully controlled both arms at the same time using a new and improved bimanual brain-interface machine. The results are promising because, of course, the ultimate goal isn’t just to allow perfectly functional monkeys to control robotic arms. The hope is to empower paraplegics and amputees with the brain-controlled capabilities to enjoy life without limits.

What Does This Mean For Humans?

To put this simply, this research proves that our brain has the ability to form new pathways. How does this translate into our daily lives? It means that while you are working there is the potential for your brain to be controlling a robot at home cleaning your house. It takes the concept of multitasking to a whole new level.

Think about the possible implications!

But, how can artificial intelligence be applied for quadriplegics? What if no neural activity is registering any motor control inside a human body? The same advances in brain-machine interface technology are now allowing monkeys to control a robotic wheelchair simply by thinking. Dr. Nicolelis and his team monitored the brain activity of two rhesus monkeys that were trained to maneuver a wheelchair just by watching it move. The monkeys transitioned to using their brains’ neuron signals to navigate a two-meter path across the room to retrieve grapes from a dispenser. The experiment required careful insertion of intracranial implants to register the monkeys’ neural activity for far superior motor control of the wheelchair.

The data received from monitoring the two monkeys’ brain activity while telematically controlling the wheelchair is the same type of data that may be used in the future to improve the livelihood of severely disabled people. People suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s, or any number of motor neuron diseases, now have hope of controlling their livelihood. Dr. Nicolelis and his team have now started implementing the discoveries and data tracking capabilities of their brain-machine interfaces into human experimentation.

This article is an excerpt from NEO founder Jesse Morris’ new book Data and the World of Today: The Reality of Today that will Impact your Business Tomorrow. Purchase your copy via Amazon.com.