Information technology has led to burgeoning demand for more types of information and more uses for the information that is available, which is why the demand for online business analytics masters could be increasing. We have moved into a data age where information is currency and businesses that can harness information for their clients can reap the benefits.
What is the data age?
As technology improves, so too has the ability to generate and save large amounts of information and company specific data. With courses such as online business analytics masters, saving this data and analyzing it is becoming easier. Be it in the cloud or in remote large-scale servers off site, decades of computing has created a context wherein large amounts of this data is available and can be used to drive economic growth. Data can be connected across devices and software allowing it to be a new constant in the business context.
How has business changed?
All businesses are collecting and have collected a large amount of customer data. The secret then is to use this data for the benefit of the business. A growing trend has been for business owners and financial managers to undertake online business analytics masters degrees. The online business analytics masters allow them to help the business understand how to use the available data. It is not as simple as it would seem, though. This article provides some valuable insights as to how your business can and should use this data to improve the way you operate. By 2025, research shows that 163 zettabytes of data will be created a year. This is an unimaginable amount of information and this information is a source of profit, or access to customers and business networks to grow and enhance your business prospects. It is those businesses that take the initiative to take an online business analytics masters who are able to harness this data to create revenue streams that will be successful in the coming times.
Businesses across the board have realized the importance of data and being able to effectively and efficiently use this as a resource. Although big data is not new to the big players out there, it has been the small business sector that has been at the forefront of recent big data usage to gain advantage over their competitors in highly competitive sectors wherein every sale counts. The data allows for a far more streamlined business model that is based on factual analysis.
The type of data that counts
The nature of any business will dictate what type of data has been gathered over the lifetime of the business. If it is a service industry where the business is conducted primarily face to face, without the need for any online contact, and payment is taken in cash there may be less easily available data. However, this is no longer the norm and most businesses have been using electronic payment systems or trading online for some time and most customer or client interaction over the past decade or so, has occurred in a manner that means this data is readily available.
However, all businesses should ensure that they collect certain details from their clients as well as information about their competitors, their sector as a whole, their production processes and their supply chain. Obtaining an online business analytics masters can help hugely with this challenging task. These are the basics that any business interested in analyzing the current context as well as future opportunities will need to have access to.
For example, for a business to professionally and effectively use something as simple as a text messaging marketing campaign, there are some basic customer and sales data that the business needs to have collected, have access to and be able to use. The business concerned will need to know who bought what, where and when, using cash or card. If this information or ‘data’ is not readily available, then the campaign will, by default be generic and thus easily ignored by the recipients of the texts. It has been proven and recorded that the more focused and specific a text marketing campaign, the more likely it is to yield results. So, it is data that will determine the nature of business, client and customer relationships going forward.
There are a number of different types of data that area bandied about and it’s important to understand these and be in a position to determine which of these are important to the business. Certain data types will refer to specific aspects of the business and will be important for stand-alone analysis while other data can be integrated to provide a holistic picture of the business.
In contrast to the masses of information known as big data, smart data is the component of this data that can easily be used. It is immediately actionable and does not need deep mining or detailed analysis. It is generally identified and accessed using smart technology and data is grabbed in real time. This can be extremely fast but the data is not as detailed as big data.
This is the data that can be harvested from the machines in the business. The data is created by the tech, the infrastructure, and industrial systems that your business uses and can be used to improve these systems. Like any other data, this will have to be collected, or systems put in place to collect it, but once collected and analyzed it can be used to change and improve machine systems and processes. For those that undertake an online business analytics masters, they will vastly improve their workplace.
The data that comes from interactions, such as payments and invoicing generally relates to an event or activity. This data can be looked at for financial detail in the short to medium term to describe how the business is doing or can be accumulated and looked at over time to show performance of a particular product, service, or activity.
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This has become the most common term bandied about in recent times and is most associated with an online business analytics masters. Many would argue that big data encompasses all of the aforementioned data types gathered in vast amounts. It is the longitudinal collection of all electronic data associated with the organization or business. This data is known to be so incredibly large and complicated that it cannot be dealt with using traditional business tools. Algorithms and specific programs are created to mine the data, extracting information that is deemed useful by the data or business analyst.
A large number of businesses have large amounts of dark data, data which has been collected and stored but has not been tapped or used for the business. The main reason for this has been the lack of dedicated personnel to process and then analyze this data. However, times are changing, and as big data becomes mainstream more and more businesses are looking to see how they too can benefit from their history and time spent in business to date. This is why the trend is to up-skill in as simple a manner as possible and online business analytics masters are seen as a way to do this. They provide a clear path towards using the data available to progress the business.
How analytics will help your business
For a business to benefit from business analytics it is strongly advised that a data strategy is developed to determine what the business wants to do with the data. The basis of business analytics will be how to use the available data to answer business questions, improve operations, and generate new streams of revenue.
Business analytics is the use of existing data (the bigger the better), generally quantitative data, to make better informed business decisions. This can be descriptive whereby longitudinal historical data is analyzed to find trends and patterns that can be exploited to improve business practice. The analysis can also be predictive, where the aim is to use data to accurately predict future business scenarios, which is best used for planning and strategic decision-making. Lastly, the data can be analyzed and used prescriptively, to determine which outcome would be best given a specific set of circumstances – this involves testing and scenario-based analysis to provide a clear picture of what would be best and when. This analysis, either one strand or all of them combined together, will then allow for the business to increase its chances of sustainable success. The analysis of big data will arguably provide the business with:
- Improved decision making, for both short term and long-term planning. Using decades of longitudinal descriptive data allows for a more defined, specific planning process. Data can help sales teams, logistics teams and operations managers to make better decisions from warehousing to distribution, marketing to customer service, and sales to service provision. Harnessing your available data means you can identify and prioritize any unanswered questions and strategize to solve operational and business problems.
More than simply answering questions about your business operations, data can also provide significant insights to better understanding your customers. This allows any business to make real, data-driven, and evidence-based decisions rather than assumption about clients.
- Better operational efficiency: Big data is integrated. No longer is data stored in corporate silos, where each department has its own stats and fiercely guards these. Once data is integrated the business analyst is able to see the business as a whole and make decisions based on the overall business, linking the various business sectors or departments.
- Understanding your customers: Big data provides a large amount of customer information. If your product or service has been purchased online, your business will have this record and then by including the data gathered on social platforms that you may interact with the customer on, texting campaigns and competitions, an amalgamated picture of the customer can be determined. Not just the customer type, but the specific customer. Likes, dislikes, previous purchases, comments, interactions with the service desk, all of this can be included in the data mined on a specific customer. This level of understanding is the new normal in marketing and sales. Business analysis of big data allows you to then use this information to design marketing campaigns, as well as then sharing the information with the design and production teams to create better customer-oriented services and products.
- Knowledge of your competition
Better understanding your business is important, but understanding what is going on outside of your business shows real strategic foresight. Using data to understand your competition gives you a number of competitive advantages. Having insight into your competitors will allow you to understand their current and future plans, giving you a competitive edge if you are able to leverage that information for your own future plans and innovation.
Key to using data strategically and to harness your competitive edge means answering some important questions. Who is your competition, what is the shape of the competition (size, location, products), and what are their strengths and weaknesses? If you are able to use data to answer these questions, you can begin to understand what strategies they might be pursing and whether these are going to be successful. Most important is gaining insight that provides not only knowledge, but also inspires your team and helps you be more competitive.
Data security has become as important as data collection and analysis. No customer or client wants the data that your business has collected throughout the customer journey to be used for anything else other that for those precise reasons that they have given permission for. Depending on where the business operates will determine the exact data protection legislation that will need to be followed and keeping data safe and protected will be a key component of any data-driven business strategy.
Using data to drive your decisions making in a strategic fashion is the best way to build a successful business in the data/knowledge age. The online business analytics masters will enable business management to be in a position to do just this. It is an intuitive process and, just as through the ages, humankind has used the resources of the specific age to create and develop a path for the future, with iron used in the iron age, and steam power during the industrial revolution. Data is fueling today’s revolution, and you could play your part in it when you take an online business analytics masters.