Trends and numbers are always around us, but for many business owners vital information often goes unnoticed because most professionals simply don’t know how to fully use the data they have. Business intelligence is a relatively new field which allows businesses to collect, maintain, and organize knowledge pertaining to virtually any field imaginable. Samples of data commonly collected by businesses are: browsing history, purchasing history of customers, statistics on website visitor activity on websites, and pretty much anything where data can be logged and tallied. Although some types of tracking raise ethical concerns, there are many cases where business intelligence is legitimately applied.
For example, Google makes significant amounts of money by tailoring ads to the content on websites – so users on a travel website will see ads for: flights, hotels, rental cars, and even prices for flights from their nearest airport to the destination they are researching. While this might be spooky, having relevant ads on a travel site is much better than getting ads for a toy store when you’re planning a vacation. Other cases include online retailers tailoring sales to times which best fit visitors from specific regions. Another practical use for analysis is benchmarking various aspects of your business against the industry average so you know how efficient your company is operating. Although business intelligence used to be reserved for larger companies due to cost, today virtually any business can implement business intelligence systems to fit virtually any need they have.
The first step to better analysis is to ensure that your company is properly tracking data on your website. Google Analytics is a great way to get started with ramping up your analysis capabilities. Key features of the software include:
- Number of visitors to your website
- Seeing which pages have the longest visits
- Tracking the paths visitors take across your website
- Page load speeds of various parts of your website
Even if you are not a techie, Google Analytics is supported by many website platforms so, when it comes to integrating the system into your website, it is a fairly simple process. Additionally, the interface is straightforward making it usable by even the least technically inclined. Aside from tracking your website, Google Analytics also supports AdWords integration. This means that if you use Google for your paid search marketing, you get very fine grained analytics integrated with your website data, which can then be used to optimize your campaigns in real time.
Business Intelligence and the gathering of data can also be applied to your financial system as well. QuickBooks and other financial software provide you basic reports such as profit & loss, tax summaries, and income and expense category summaries. By adding services, such as BodeTree, you can enhance the findings of such programs by allowing for extensive reporting and professional report design (a major improvement over just showing your team pages of numbers). By providing users with the ability to compare their financials against the competition, value their businesses without retaining expensive consultants, and also providing a wealth of information to help your business succeed in a competitive marketplace, BodeTree helps to add a whole new dimension of insights behind traditional financial figures.
Overall it is important to keep in mind that even the greatest analytics programs are useless if you aren’t actually interpreting the data and putting the information to good use. Although setting up analytics tools is a step in the right direction, it is crucial for you to ensure that staff are trained in the programs and able to make sense of the data, rather than just letting it fly by.
These two tools are just a sample of the power of big data in small settings. Keep an eye out for our second part of this series where we will be profiling even more technologies to give your company an edge against the competition.