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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

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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.

 

What Do Patients REALLY Care About?

Improve Your Practice By Knowing Your Practice |  Business Intelligence For Private Practice

NEO time Business Intelligence For Private PracticeA good practice is centered around making the patient experience a positive one, but how do you know if you’re doing the right things?  There are so many personalities and different needs of patients that it can feel daunting to know what you should actually focus on.

We talk to a lot of patients in our line of work, and we have seen a few common trends in the things that patients care about the most.

Here’s what patients care about:

  1. Time – Respect your patients’ time by staying on schedule.
  2. Convenience – Patients are looking for appointment times that can fit within their busy lives.  They’re also looking for easy access to find your office’s contact information, address, and physical location.  Make sure that all of this information is blatantly obvious for your patients to find.
  3. Clear Expectations – Set up the expectation of what is involved in a particular procedure or appointment up front so that the patient has no surprises.
  4. Taking Ownership – When you or your team has made a mistake, own up to it.  You’ll gain more respect by your integrity, rather than lose a patient that feels like you don’t care.
  5. Taking Perceived Ownership – The patient doesn’t always know the behind-the-scenes as to why something was done the way it was, nor do they care.  If the patient is perceiving that something was done wrong, take ownership and make steps to help make the situation right.
  6. Clear Explanations – Don’t expect that your patients understand all of your dental or medical jargon.  They didn’t go to medical school, and often need you to put things in plain English.
  7. A “Wow” Experience – Patients may not consciously know they are looking for a “wow” experience, but they know when they’ve had one.  What are you doing to make a memorable experience for your patients from the moment they walk in your door?
  8. Reviews – Patients care about word of mouth and online reviews more than anything else about your practice.  If someone else has vouched for your practice, they will automatically have a certain level of trust.
  9. Smiles – It’s a novel idea, really, that a dental or medical office is full of smiles.  A smiling face can go a long way to improve someone’s day, put them at ease about a scary procedure, or simply create a welcoming atmosphere.  Either way you spin it, smiles matter!

When you know what patients are looking for, you can manage your practice in a way that meets these needs.  So, the question is, how is your practice doing on all of these categories?

  • Do you run on time?
  • Do you have convenient appointment times for your patients (not necessarily just for you)?
  • Do you set clear expectations so that patients know what to expect when they come for an appointment?
  • Do you educate your patients in a way that they understand?
  • Do you take ownership?  When was the last time you apologized to a patient?
  • What do you do to create a memorable experience at your office?
  • How is you practice doing with online reviews?
  • Does your team smile more than frown?

 

Learn more about business intelligence and data analytics for private practices and dental offices from Never Ever Ordinary.

Could A Positive Attitude Save Your Practice?

Cultivating Positivity In Your Team | Business Intelligence For Private Practice

NEO positivity - Business Intelligence For Private PracticeA positive attitude is perhaps the best thing you can cultivate within your practice to not only improve your office’s atmosphere, but create a stellar patient experience every single time.  However, positivity is not something that will happen automatically, nor will it happen overnight.

How do you cultivate positivity into your practice?

  1. Start Off Positive.  Start your day by writing down five things you are grateful for.  It may be the same five things each day, or you can change it each day.  The point here is that you are taking time to mentally think through the things that you are thankful for.  Slowing down and being mindful of these things is so important, especially in our fast-paced lives.
  2. Express Gratitude To Others.  Find ways to thank others and verbalize gratitude to them.  Make it a point to thank people in your life for the little and big things they do.  Your patients will notice that you are grateful and respectful to your staff, and they will respect you more for it.
  3. Look For Silver Linings.  One of our favorite movies is Silver Linings Playbook and from that movie, we’ve adopted the habit of looking for silver linings in all situations.  Yes, bad situations and bad days happen, but there is always something good you can find.  There’s always something you can learn from bad days.
  4. View Difficulties As An Opportunity.  You have a great team behind you, and when you face difficulties, include the insight of your team as an opportunity to solve a problem.  That problem doesn’t have to always be a problem, and by seeing what you can learn from it the first time around, you can avoid these challenges in the future.
  5. Take Ten Minutes For Mindfulness.  Finding space in your day to be mindful of your emotions, be thankful, and recognize what is happening in the day is a great way to reset yourself.  We live in very busy lives, and most practices run at very fast paces.  Breaks are important and can be vital to helping you maintain a positive outlook on life.

Positivity Starts With You.

As the practice owner, you set the tone for the entire practice.  You need to project the positivity that you want to be prominent in your team.  Your team will follow your lead, and your patients will follow your team’s lead.  If you’re reading this and you’re not the team leader in your group, know that positivity starts with you too.  You can become a leader simply by projecting positivity into your environment.  Ultimately, no one can make positivity happen in your life for you; YOU have to choose to make it a priority in your life.

Cultivating positivity is so important within your practice, but these tips are applicable in any aspect of your life.  You can cultivate positivity in your friendships, your home, your marriage, or even just your interaction with the next store clerk you encounter.  Positivity can do wonders.  We’ve seen it turn practices around from failing to excelling beyond all belief.

 

Learn more about Never Ever Ordinary and our practice and dental analytics services and tools!

The Best Ways To Improve The Patient Experience

Grow Your Practice By Improving The Patient Experience

Successful practices know that the patient experience is not just an important focus, it is THE main focus.  That stellar patient experience starts and ends with your team.  As you focus on improving the patient experience, there are a number of things to think about.  We recommend starting with one or two tactics and then build on from there.

Top Tactics For Improving The Patient Experience:

  1. Improving The Patient Experience | Never Ever Ordinary Jesse Morris Business IntelligenceThe Power Of A Name.  Using someone’s name is a simple thing, but is actually a really BIG thing.  By using someone’s name in a sentence, you validate their worth and let them know that you care about who they are.
  2. Remember Details.  Remembering details about a patient and then recollecting those details at later visits will blow your patients minds!  For example, if you have a patient who loves fly fishing, you can ask them if they’ve been on any recent fishing trips.  By doing so, you signal to the patient that you care about them, and not just the fact that they are filling an appointment slot.
  3. Body Language.  Pay attention to your body language to see if you are closing people off, or welcoming them into interaction with you.  Crossed arms, indirect eye contact, and turned away shoulders are all signs that you don’t care about engaging with the patient.  Conversely, direct eye contact and body positioning to the patient tell your patient that you care about them.  Especially for dental and medical teams, remember that often positions that patients have to be in for exams is not comfortable.  Go the extra step, literally, and move to look at your patient, instead of down from behind.
  4. Active Listening.  Active listening, instead of passive listening, means that you are directly engaged with what the patient is saying.  Repeat back the patient’s questions or confirmations that you have heard what they are saying.  For example, if a patient is telling you about their family trip to Alaska, you could respond with a phrase that starts off with “While you were in Alaska, did you see…” or ask the patient about the most memorable part of their trip to Alaska.
  5. Speak in short, simple sentences…and then shut up.  Speak clearly to your patients when you are explaining procedures and then allow the patient to process the information you gave them.  Don’t be afraid of a few seconds of silence.  You risk bringing up concerns the patient didn’t have originally, or overcomplicating the explanation by rambling on and on.
  6. Do What You Say You’re Going To Do.  It’s simple really, but this is often the biggest reason that patients are disappointed.  If you say that you will do something, simply do it.
  7. Cultivate Positivity.  A positive attitude can go a long way in improving the patient experience.  If you and your team are committed to excellence and positivity, your patient experience will improve now and continue to improve over time.

Every practice can benefit from taking a few minutes to look at their own patient experience.  Whether you have a little to work on, or a lot to work on, it is worth taking the time to improve the patient experience.  A little effort to improve your patient satisfaction could be the key to growing and improving your practice!

 

Other Resources For Improving The Patient Experience:

The Beryl Institute

Improve the Patient Experience – Forbes