When it comes to changes in the business-intelligence (BI) technology market, old giants of the enterprise software industry like SAP and Oracle aren’t leading the charge as you might expect. Instead, younger companies are the ones to watch when it comes to the most exciting business-intelligence software products that we’re seeing hit the market today.
Whether it’s Salesforce’s state-of the-art Analytics Cloud system; or the mobile POS solutions that we’ve seen from Revel Systems; or, from Tableau, BI software that delivers immaculate data reporting at the speed of real time, one thing is for certain: Monolithic systems are increasingly a thing of the past.
That means that newer, more adaptable BI tools (and the across-organization integration capabilities they offer) are going to become an increasingly large part of the way we communicate and do business.
In that spirit, I submit three BI trends that can benefit your business.
1. The rise of social intelligence
Businesses are becoming more and more customer-centric, and this is due in large part to the continual effect that social media has on how consumers behave. As a small business, you can’t be caught behind the curve in this regard. It’s no longer the case that businesses, large or small, can simply expect customers to buy products and services. Instead, current and potential customers also “participate” by writing blog posts, sharing reviews through sites like Facebook and Twitter and commenting on businesses through a multitude of other social networks.
In fact, social media platforms have given marketers an endless number of ways to connect with consumers and pick up on the different data trails that these networks create; and that's key to creating engagement. However, it’s not enough to start a Facebook page or Twitter account and expect that simply because you’re on social media, your customers will come to you. Instead, businesses are now relying on advanced analytics technologies to help mine “big data” sources in order to learn more about their customers and gain insights about the different ways they prefer to communicate.
So, what exactly is social business intelligence? Essentially, it combines the traditional roles of BI software (building reports, dashboards, score cards, etc.), to track overall performance and shine a light on key performance indicators.
SBI then applies these results to analyze and deliver insights from social media. In other words, social business intelligence software is a tool that allows users to incorporate social networking, monitoring and analytics into a dashboard interface that offers clearer insights, which can lead to better ROI. This type of technology can be a windfall tool for small businesses especially, since small-to-medium-size businesses typically don’t have the budget to market outside of social media.
Still stuck on where to begin when it comes to implementing a social intelligence tool into your suite of BI software?
IBM’s Social Media Analytics Software as a service tool is particularly good at helping digital marketers segment campaigns and discover new sentiments that their constituencies are engaging with (see an overview here). The bottom line with social intelligence is that the smarter and more proactive you are when it comes to engaging with your customers, the more likely you are to improve your conversion rates.
2. The emergence of smart analytics
The end result of all BI software tools is to help end-users make more informed decisions. But if we can only be as informed as yesterday’s numbers allow us to be, how effective are our insights, really? With everything in business now moving at the speed of real time, the software we use to leverage insights must move faster. Whether a company wants to predict future trends, understand its customers better or help drive its strategic decision-making, smart analytics tools can use your old data to provide a treasure trove of new leads and new insights.
Chandni Vyas recently wrote about how the use of predictive analytics helped Cox Communications (the third largest cable entertainment and broadband provider in the United States) reduce customer turnover and increase customer conversions. Cox, Vyas wrote, used predictive analytics to identify business drivers for growth, then determine which customers to cultivate for new offerings.
Cox wanted to figure out why customers would choose the company and which ones would buy a particular product. The result was that the company was able to put more campaigns into the field.
While the ability to forecast analytic trends is still a new frontier for many companies, the technology is at our fingertips now; and that means that this is a tool your business should look into. Consider this video clip from Tableau, which shows how smart analytics tools can integrate into the way companies perceive data now.
The growth of increased threat intelligence
As a small business owner, you may not have outside threats, like malware and hacker attacks, top of mind. But when security giant Cisco announces a host of new cloud based security and analytics tools, you know that every other BI software vendor notices.
From what we’ve seen in the last few months, increased threat intelligence is a top concern among many industry leaders. IBM launched new threat analytics tools in the cloud back in April, and Microsoft followed up in May with its launch of Advanced Threat Analytics. Microsoft’s ATA platform in particular adds a fresh spin on threat analytics with a user interface that’s easy to use and able to give end-users a top-down overview of where threats are coming from.
Why is better threat intelligence important to your small business? Simply because you always need to be thinking ahead when it comes to leveraging technology that can make your business more reliable.
As with every other trend on this list, the ability to be more intuitive is important when it comes to analyzing where your company is vulnerable to attacks. What’s more, in an age where end-users typically use up to several devices across a variety of remote locations to access company resources, it’s no surprise that 76 percent of malicious attacks stem from compromised user credentials.
By implementing advanced BI threat analytics tools into your business’ security system, you’ll be better prepared to analyze attacks when they happen, instead of remaining vulnerable to blind spots that can spell big trouble.
This article first appeared on Entrepreneur and was written by Himanshu Sareen and can be found here.