Perspectives on Analytics: Attitudes on New Data Frontiers


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Data scientists, business analysts and business executives have some innovative ways to extract insights from their internal information repositories. Open API standards like REST, and increased partnerships between Software-as-a-Service vendors benefits the customers who implement business applications like:
• Point of Sale and other retail applications
• Buy side procurement and sell side e-commerce
• Product lifecycle management
• Project management for services companies

Now that most companies have a fairly good handle on their internal data resources, they are faced with increasing pressure to analyze external data about their business such as:
• Web presence and e-commerce analytics
• Social media sentiment and mentions
• Sensor readings from the Internet of Things
• Digital marketing performance intelligence, such as email, display ad campaigns and off-site influencer content about your company

The amount of resources invested into each of the emerging data types varies from company to company. Some executives take a “we shouldn’t track what we can’t control” approach, yet companies can learn valuable lessons from what is happening just outside a company’s physical and digital sphere.

Let’s take a closer look into these four data types, and how analytics can generate big rewards for smart companies.

1. Web Presence and e-commerce Data
When you ask many businesses if they are tracking the performance of their public facing web presence, they often say they check in on Google Analytics from time to time. Yet web traffic visits, keywords and conversions are only the part of the web presence analytics story.
Content performance analytics company, gShift calls attention to “The Dark Funnel” of the customer journey, which starts before a prospect gets to your website. They are taking on the complex task of tracking customer views of off-site reviews, user generated content and competitor content.
Google Analytics provides important metrics about the performance of your website and referral sources. Companies need take action on these insights, and leverage advanced web analytics tools like gShift, Moz or Adobe Analytics to get the full story.
The ability to use advanced data visualization tools to see website statistics like e-commerce product views, and click-through patterns are important for companies to use to constantly improve their web presence. The web is the primary research tool for most B2B and B2C companies, both on their own sites, and elsewhere on the web. Adding personalized content, based on big data insights builds prospect confidence and customer loyalty.

2. Social Media Sentiment
Social media analytics can help businesses of all sizes to better understand their customer engagement, and make strategic moves to connect with customers at critical moments. Some CEO’s, like Virgin’s Richard Branson, Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes and Domo’s Josh James are very active on social media, while about 61 percent don’t have a social media presence at all.

When a company’s CEO doesn’t engage in social media themselves, it suggests an attitude of indifference about the importance of channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The ability to track mentions, retweets, shares and likes on social channels can help companies know:
• How the market feels about their products and services
• Provides guidance on the sort of digital/documentation content gaps need to be addressed
• Which strategic moves need to be made to gain marketshare, reduce customer churn or and build loyalty
• How to create personalized content and improve the self-service functionality of their websites

Social media has evolved into a platform to
• Monitor customer engagement
• Respond to customer inquiries faster
• Amplify company messaging
• Show industry thought leadership to direct customer behavior

Social media analytics are critical to understand what is being said about you online, and understand how your content is resonating with your target market. Executives shouldn’t reject social media as a waste of time.

3. Paid Off-Site Media
Paying for off-site content, such as display ads, remarketing and AdWords is only as effective as the analytics used to measure the results. Setting up digital marketing campaigns, and hoping for the best isn’t a winning strategy.

Track the performance of your AdWords campaigns, landing pages and e-mail marketing campaigns with thorough A/B testing. Watching long-term trends in analytics, and making periodic changes to your keywords and content helps to get the best return on your digital marketing investment.
Influencer marketing is another emerging trend that, if you invest in it, you want to keep a close eye on the results. B2B and B2C influencers demand big payments for testimonials on YouTube, their blogs and social channels. If an influencer isn’t delivering the results or the “buzz” you are looking for, analytics will be the first resource tell you.

4. The Internet of Things and Big Data
The “industrial internet” is a significant contributor to Big Data. Experts predict there will be over 50 billion devices connected the IoT. Machine to Machine messages through WiFi and cellular connections tend to be small in size, but analyzing device performance data over time helps companies to build more proactive relationships with their customers for timely:
• Device Maintenance
• Machine Replacement
• Supply and/or parts delivery

The Internet of Things has been around since about 2008, yet the amount of data travelling across it is exploding exponentially. Mining that data is a critical mandate which most companies will have to take seriously over the coming years.

Business intelligence has traditionally been focused internally, into the business applications running on a company’s network. Executives, analysts and data scientists that adopt strategies to extract intelligence from these emerging, external data sources will get the best return on their analytics investment.

Paco Darcey
Paco is a Business Analyst at Clutch, where he leads the research on Business Intelligence and Big Data software. He graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Mathematical Economics. Paco is always looking to learn about the latest trends in data analysis. He is particularly interested in learning more about what users think of various BI software tools.


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