All businesses strive to get the best possible outcome in an uncertain and competitive world. But really achieving that goal means businesses must understand their complete contexts — themselves, their competition, and the markets they serve — far more clearly and accurately than they typically do at present.
That’s where advanced analytics can make a tremendous difference. Today, analytics tools of many kinds can yield powerful insights — what the military calls “actionable intelligence” — to inform businesses:
• Which new services or products are likely to be in high demand in the near future
• How marketing campaigns have succeeded, or failed, in different areas, with different demographics
• How well tuned their business processes and infrastructures are (or, perhaps, are not)
• Emerging trends in what customers are saying in the real world — in, or close to, real time
Let’s take a look at how this happens, and explore how advanced analytics can help businesses achieve these and many other goals.
Tame the complexity of today’s business markets — in ways your competition hasn’t
Advanced analytics begin with the premise of big data — the huge and perpetually growing body of raw business information of many kinds, from many sources.
The idea is that by sifting through this mass, looking for different patterns in different ways, analytics tools can arrive at a more accurate comprehension of the complete business climate. They can thus give businesses new insight into what they need to do to get an improved outcome.
This is roughly similar to extrapolating the future location of a ball fired from a cannon, given variables such as wind speed, cannonball mass, cannon size, etc. Whether you’re doing the firing, being fired at, or both, knowing exactly where cannonballs will land is obviously very important if you happen to be at war in the seventeenth century.
The problem, of course, is that dynamic human markets in a modern free enterprise economy are far more complex than basic physics of this sort. The aggregate psychological reaction of customers to different products, services, and marketing campaigns, for instance, involves so many variables that it can’t be predicted with perfect accuracy using simple equations.
Fortunately, analytics tools can be remarkably effective in delivering close approximations. They can create business clarity of a sort that is otherwise simply not available, whether from in-house teams, consultants, or from any other source. This is critical information your competitors simply may not have.
Analytics tools can reveal invisible problems and untapped potential
Beyond competitive positioning, advanced analytics also give most businesses a platform to improve internally in extraordinary ways. This is because most are either not using analytics at all, or are using analytics only in limited contexts that create much less value than they might.
As an example, let’s consider utilities. Utilities today often use analytics to track and analyze big data streamed from smart sensors distributed across a power grid. This is basic information about electrical consumption, and it’s unquestionably helpful to the utility in answering questions like
• Where are there failures, and when did they occur?
• Which failures have the highest priority? (Example: huge office or apartment buildings, as opposed to standalone shops.)
• How can we optimize the way work crews are sent to address power outages?
That’s valuable insight, no doubt. But what if more advanced analytics were used in a far broader sense? For instance, imagine analytics tools that could answer questions for the city itself, like:
• How is power consumption changing, year over year, in different areas of the city based on changing conditions like weather, holidays, traffic patterns, and population growth?
• Based on future projections and the details of municipal planning, what major problems can the city expect in the next five years?
• Of the eight major plans to minimize these problems, which particular plan delivers the best results at the lowest costs and risks to the city?
• Suppose we offer incentives for businesses and consumers to install solar grids, actually creating more power than they need and selling the rest back to the city. What would be the expected effects of such a major change in policy?
This kind of insight is simply an order of magnitude superior to the first type.
And in general, it’s clear that the more advanced analytics tools are, the more powerful the insights they will deliver, and the better the overall outcome both the city and all its citizens will get.
The same is true for businesses of all kinds, in all industries — especially enterprise-class businesses, which have the largest scope of operations, solutions, and services, and therefore the most complexity to analyze.
Combine smart analytics to create a custom solution to your challenges and goals
There are many different classes of advanced analytics — and more arriving all the time — based on a variety of powerful algorithms and design goals. Among the most popular are:
• Sentiment analysis: Get quantified insight into what customers are saying worldwide, in social media, about your products and services.
• Social graphs: Establish and track the dynamically-changing connections between customers, groups, organizations, and other social entities that pertain to your business.
• Pattern matching: Detect hidden patterns, then take full advantage of them quickly and effectively.
• Predictive analytics: Assess the probability of future scenarios, and ensure you’re well positioned for the most likely events.
• Data mining: Extract specific information of different kinds from very large, very complex data sets.
All this barely scratches the surface of what businesses can achieve using the tools available today.
If you’d like much more extensive information about everything advanced analytics tools can do for you, please get in touch. GRT has always specialized in helping clients get the highest possible value from business information, and I’m sure we can do the same for your business as well.