Articles

  • Applicant Tracking Software - Buyers Guide

    1. What is applicant tracking software?For recruiters across many industries, having the edge on hiring the best applicants is a high-value option. In the internet age, applicant tracking software (ATS) gives smart employers just that; it saves valuable resources in management time and expenses by streamlining the recruiting process from the outset and controlling it from there on in. Recruiters have access to an effective database of applicants, job specifications, and descriptions. From here, ATS provides an interface to help managers fill every job opportunity quickly and correctly, thanks to applicant tracking, scoring, profiling, and resume parsing. 2. The benefits of applicant tracking software Applicant tracking software represents high value for businesses because it fits the right candidate to the right job, as efficiently as possible. ATS packages help do this in the following ways: Automation and streamlining: Globalization and big data mean that candidates for many jobs can apply from almost anywhere in the world. This means a pool of talent which can be very large indeed, even for specialized positions. ATS products begin by automating the sifting process from the beginning, from screening resumes to contacting potential applicants and conducting follow up tasks after successful recruitment. ATS also records every step of this process on a database, for future reference. Improving HR efficiency: Recruiting staff is time-consuming and involves a number of repetitive tasks. By automating as much of the process as possible, many of these tasks are completed by ATS software. This greatly assists human resources (HR) departments, as staff can employ many portals simultaneously, according to each job posting. When surveyed, almost 90% of recruitment professionals said that using this software helped them fill positions more efficiently. Minimizing cost per hire: As there are many ways of reaching out to candidates, allocating resources to the right ones is of paramount importance. Applicant tracking software uses data from previous campaigns to allocate the appropriate level of outreach to each channel, which in turn means the best use of resources spent on recruitment, in terms of both staff time and overall expenditure. Maximizing hire quality: ATS shortlisting and resume parsing delivers the highest percentile of qualified staff at the earliest stages of the recruitment process. From this high starting point, HR staff can use their time and expertise to the best advantage, giving businesses and candidates alike the best chance of finding the right fit for each post. The reduction in time spent on repetitive admin tasks also makes the whole process much quicker. 3. Typical features of applicant tracking software The following features are most commonly found in the best ATS software products: Candidate tracking: Records every step of each individual applicant’s progress through the recruitment process, based on interactions at each stage. Profiling: Easily create, edit, and manage each candidate’s personal and professional information on an efficient, searchable database. Resume search: Store, access, and manage database of all candidate resumes from every job application. Interview scheduling: Synchronizes calendar software between recruiters and applicants via preferred calendar options. Resume parsing: Gather relevant information from all resumes on record, converting from a wide range of formats to one instantly searchable via ATS. 4. The cost of applicant tracking software Applicant tracking software is sometimes marketed at a per-job posting level; however, the majority of these products sell on a per user, per month schedule. These latter are priced on a three-level cost hierarchy, based on starting price: Price ranges*: $19-$28$28-$49$49+ *These price tiers refer to entry-level, lowest-priced versions of packages, as gathered from vendors’ websites on 25 February 2019. They correspond to the 25th, 75th, and 100th percentile of price data for sample products, as advertised on relevant websites. Prices also refer to base plans for most of the products described herein. Enterprise and premiumversions are sometimes available, which have added functionality including a referral program, workflow control, resume branding, social media management, and automated interview scheduling. 5. Considerations when buying applicant tracking software When considering investing in ATS software, the following should always be a priority: Final cost of purchase: ATS vendors have different pricing models based on their individual offerings, which will be targeted at certain business sectors. Some offer annual contracts, others charge on a per-user basis, and some market their products on a monthly subscription basis. Alternatively, there are options where you can pay by individual posting. With this in mind, final costs may depend on extra expenses such as training and reporting costs, customer support, and onboarding fees. Ease of implementation and integration: The added value which comes with applicant tracking software is only worthwhile if it can help your business streamline recruitment, which means working as seamlessly as possible with your existing software portfolio, or with any products you may buy in the future. HR software in particular, therefore, must work perfectly alongside your new ATS system; payroll will be the next priority. These in turn will rely on syncing of calendars, databases, and email accounts. Be careful to research the compatibility of any products before committing. 6. Relevant trends The rise of social media recruitment: With an ever more internet savvy pool of talent to choose from, social media is an absolute must for any serious recruiter, and this situation is here to stay. From Millennials and younger, each generation spends more time on social media, of one kind or another. For this reason, 94% of hirers use the web to engage with potential clients and employees. ATS lets you do this easily, including options like Q&A with candidates, piggybacking on hashtags, LinkedIn, and much more. AI and recruitment: As with so many other business arenas, recruitment is looking to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI). Immediate advantages offered by AI are automated candidate screening and recruit onboarding. Chatbots are also very valuable in responding to applicant queries, enormously reducing HR workload during recruitment campaigns. Meanwhile, It is forecast that AI itself will replace about 16% of human employment in the next decade, which will require a drastic change in recruitment policies for many businesses.

    Read More
  • A Jargon-Free Guide to Business Dashboards

    The chances are that when you think about dashboards the first thing that is likely to pop into your head is an image of clusters of dials, warning lights, and digital readouts that are associated with monitoring equipment. From cars and aircraft to ships and electronic equipment, they all relay crucial information back to the operator through some kind of dashboard. Data and your business Your business could also be viewed as a machine that operates certain interconnected systems such as marketing, sales, admin, human resources, eCommerce, and others. All these aspects of your business are continually producing real-world effects on profit and business performance and all businesses are fundamentally affected by them. This is why accessing and understanding these metrics through the use of data is so vitally important to you. Accessing your businesses data through dashboards In terms of technological advances and their uses in business, if the shift from farming to the industrial revolution took several decades, the leap from hard copy and manually generated charts to desktop-based software programs could be measured in just a few years. After that, in the here and now, the evolution of SaaS and cloud-based data systems can probably be measured in only months! That means even if you aren’t using business dashboards already your competitors probably are. Why your business needs dashboards As a pretty safe rule of thumb, the bigger the operation, the more data it is likely to be producing. Now, that may initially sound like great news and any new business will bear witness to how data-hungry they are in the early stages of their development, but data can also become as much an enemy as a friend. It is all well and good producing and collecting huge amounts of data, however, it costs time and money to analyze it. Making the most of your business data through dashboards Business dashboards offer the solution to this issue of handling data by reducing the time and resources that have traditionally been used to collate and extract what is most relevant to your business. If you are still wondering whether a dashboard is relevant to your business you may want to consider that statistics suggest a staggering ninety percent of collected and circulated business data is ineffective! Cost-effectiveness through business dashboards Apart from the huge amount of man-hours that can be expended on collecting data and sifting through it, there is every chance that by the time some data has finally filtered through to where it needs to be in a business, it may already be out of date. If your business is looking for a cost-effective data solution, dashboards are already delivering the results you need to companies and organizations just like yours all over the globe. So what should you look for when choosing a dashboard? Bearing in mind some of the points that we have already covered in this article, apart from ensuring that your business dashboard delivers those all-important and relevant KPIs, you may need to ask yourself some important and relevant questions. These are likely to include your goals, who the data is for, and how it will be used in your business. In the following, we take a look at the different types of dashboards, their applications, and who they are aimed at serving in your business. Two distinct dashboard categories Apart from considering data types and end-users, dashboards could be said to fall neatly into two distinct categories. These are analytical and operational or as is sometimes the case, a blend of the two. As you may imagine, operational types best suit organizations and businesses that may require feedback on on-going performance such as call centers. An analytically based dashboard, on the other hand, would most likely have uses in marketing and sales or calculations that are relevant to eCommerce and other profit-driven KPIs. Something about dashboard types Most forward-thinking dashboard suppliers would provide a further level of “out of the box” customization with the target area of your business clearly in mind. While this level of customization should by no means be a final “one size” fit, it brings it into closer alignment with specific key operations of your business. This ultimately saves much expense and time and further unnecessary customization can also be avoided. Choosing the best fit for your business operations Some of the types of dashboards commonly offered and to be considered are executive, sales, and marketing specific. There are also options for call centers, healthcare organizations, social media, and a diverse range of SEO and eCommerce applications too. While these more finitely targeted options may provide a core foundation for your business dashboard, the benefits of further customization and tailoring go almost without mention. Considering your bottom line While the wonders of modern dashboard technology provide for virtually all and every circumstance and an all-singing and dancing package is a very real possibility, profit doesn’t come through wasted resources. As we have touched upon already, data overload is becoming an increasingly real issue for businesses of all shapes and sizes, and ensure that yours isn’t wasting its time and money collecting and analyzing data for the mere sake of it is crucial to your bottom line. Speaking your language Just as you wouldn’t employ an English speaking workforce to conduct telesales to a Chinese market and then employ a team of interpreters to translate every call, neither would you consider doing the same with your data. Yet, if you’re chosen business dashboard isn’t clear, concise, and easy to understand by your end users that is exactly what you could end up doing. Unless you are in the specific business of data analytics, you won’t want to spend money and resources on unraveling data and translating it into usable information for the end-users within your business. Choosing a business dashboard that provides Flexibility As a business owner or manager you are likely to be familiar with the idea that in today’s fast-paced environment there are really only two distinct types of business. When even long-standing major retail chains are seen to collapse it brings this concept sharply into present-day focus. The fact is that a business is either expanding or contracting and there is no longer an option to merely standstill. This makes flexibility more relevant than ever before right across the business strata and your chosen dashboard should be no exception. Considering scalability In view of the above and considering that growth is a key consideration for your business, it makes perfect sense that your business dashboard has the built-in capability to grow with your business. While “scalability” has become something of a business community buzzword recently, the reality behind the concept has been cited as a major factor in small business failures. It is highly likely that businesses with access to relevant data are better placed to predict and cater for cash flow exhaustion and the effects of overtrading. Ease of access using business dashboards Along with the key factors flexibility and scalability, the modern business is becoming a far more global affair in every aspect of its operation and audience reach. Having unrestricted and instant access to your business's data is, therefore, now a major consideration if you are to act and react in the current fast-paced environment. Business dashboards that are totally mobile are almost a prerequisite for forward-thinking organizations that want access to their data anywhere at any time and you should insist that yours provides for it in the following ways: Mobile business dashboards From home offices to workers out in the field it has never been more crucial for businesses to access data exactly when they need it. Mobile business dashboards and apps provide a seamless data stream between your core databases and those who need access to it. Many important decisions can only be made in light of relevant data and mobile business dashboards are the perfect way to make sure that happens. Keeping your head in the clouds Having your often sensitive and important data in one physical location is never really the best idea a business could come up with. The great news is that with a cloud-based business dashboard system the security of your data is one less thing that you will need to worry about. With seamless integrations and access from both, an office-based computer and mobile devices the shackles will be well and truly removed from your flow of data, effectively setting it free to be accessed by your business from anywhere at any time. Desktop business dashboard systems Although a cloud-based and mobile compatible dashboard offers maximum flexibility for mobile and global access, there will be occasions where a desktop system is either sufficient or necessary. In these instances, the full software is added to the IT system within a company’s or organization’s premises and accessed in a conventional way via user permissions. The data provided from such a system can then be either forwarded to other users outside the office digitally or printed off as a hard copy. The importance of integration Remember what we said about language and interpretation? Well, imagine an office where every employee speaks a different language and consider the chaos it would undoubtedly cause. Now you have some idea of the difficulties that can arise when incompatible IT systems are forced to work together. Choosing a business dashboard that has the ability to integrate with both your existing and future IT is however only half of the story. From social media campaign access and accounting to marketing and sales, your important KPIs will only be available if your technologies can talk to each other. Starting with a clean slate One of the key features offered by market leaders in business dashboards is that the user gets to build the core product from the software that they provided. This not only means that your business has the total flexibility to select and initiate the data channels that are most relevant, but it also provides you with the all-important ability to filter out the masses of insignificant “data noise”. This ensures that you don’t end up wasting valuable time and resources sifting through irrelevant data further down the road. Business dashboard training Unless you want your employees to spend time on the phone talking to product support every time you need to alter a core function of your chosen business dashboard it will pay you to have hands-on involvement from the start. A system that takes you through every step of creating and operating your chosen business dashboard-type will put you firmly in the driving seat in every aspect of the system's creation and operation. Backup and support when you need it the most Having a supply partner that is available to your business whenever you need them can make a huge difference to your success too. That is why astute business owners and managers prefer to make the best-informed system choices with a team that offers the support they hope they never actually have to use. Then again, it is often said that you will never know how good a product or service really is until something goes wrong. Making an informed business dashboard choice We trust that after reading the topics we have covered in this article you are better informed about business dashboards, how they work, and what you should be looking for when choosing one for your business or organization. While the above is by no means an exhaustive resume of all that business dashboards have to offer it has hopefully given you at least some idea of how they may fit into your overall business strategy. Taking data management to the next level Maybe now is the time for your business to join the market leaders and move up to the next level of data technology. They say that information is king and with that in mind, making an informed choice and taking some time over doing so can only be a positive step towards making the best dashboard decision for your business.

    Read More
  • Discovering the Impact of Data – Leading From the Front

    While change undisputedly comes from the top-down, few would argue that where utilizing data is concerned, it is key employees who need to be among the first to discover how it is used in their organization. As such, it falls to management to ensure that the necessary technology, training, and processes are in place so that the best data-driven decisions are made. How to ensure that your organization makes the best data discoveries As C-suite operations and real sales continue to be the main driving forces behind the every- increasing data mountains that most businesses are creating, it follows that the strategiesdesigned to discover and use them must also evolve. The real irony is that many organizations are still not utilizing this data to the full, while many C-suite executives still have limited understanding concerning its potential. It would be easy for busy CEOs and others to fall into the trap of treating such data as something to be handled and controlled while missing out on its potential to influence decisions. Understanding this is likely to provide the motivation needed to move towards improved processes of mining and utilizing such data. Understanding how utilizing business data will impact your business The aptly named business intelligence or BI technology as it is also known is primarily used to gather, collate, and utilize data in businesses and organizations of all sizes. Thanks to such things as data protection and handling laws, these systems are now considered something of a mandatory requirement for any company. While there may be some sections of the business community which have attached a few negative connotations to this process of handling data, most have now embraced the positive aspects provided by the access to large quantities of information. Having recognized this potential, forward-thinking C-suite personnel have acted prudently in taking their organizations through this digital transformation. This has placed them at the forefront of the data-driven wave, by providing them with the systems needed to make the most of this data. Data-driven decisions and laying the right foundations There is little doubt that creating a data-driven philosophy within any organization is something that must happen from the top downwards. Therefore, leadership input into the ethos of data discovery, collection, handling, and usage is a must and that means leading from the front is a crucial factor in its success. Some of the must-haves for such leaders would include: An awareness of both current and evolving data technologies and business intelligence An understanding of related technologies and how they impact on data The ability or resources (or both) to create an effective and reliable data infrastructure Instigating and maintaining the systems needed to discover, collate and analyze data in a time-conscious manner Allowing key employees to take both control and responsibility for data and its associated systems Ensure there are “all levels” of management understanding of how the data is being handled and utilized Provide systems which both detect and trace changes in the data stream Instigate regular and routine data reviews to ensure that data analysis remains efficient Take continuing action to ensure that investment is made in data to the benefit of the organization Some of the benefits of focusing on data discovery It is already widely accepted that keeping pace with the changes which affect any growing organization is one of the key pathways to business success. The discovery of data now plays a key role in such businesses by providing relevant information and providing insights into potential risk factors. The reality is, that unless business leadership takes the initiative, many organizations are highly likely to miss out on the innovations and opportunities that are right under their noses. Worse still, such businesses could discover that they are unwittingly conceding an advantage to their competitors who are already leveraging the virtually limitless potential of their data.

    Read More
  • How to Gain the Maximum Benefit from the Data that your Business Collects

    While business success in any endeavor should never be considered a given, it has long been established that a great deal depends on making the best business choices. Conversely, to err really is human so we should not just consider the possibility of mistakes in business, but actually expect them. One of the often frustratingly simple answers to making headway in an enterprise is to ensure that over time, you make more good decisions than bad. How technology can help you to do it right Considering the huge technological leaps which have been made in the last few decades, BI (business intelligence) is now able to tap into huge amounts of data which has the potential to guide future decision making. By analyzing historic outcomes, intelligent business systems are able to accurately predict outcomes that would otherwise have left you guessing. So why isn’t it happening? The irony is, that not all business leaders and entrepreneurs appear to have “switched onto” the awesome power of these evolving technologies, choosing instead to rely on their own instincts and (often limited) experience. The reality is, that without relevant data, you will never be in possession of the full picture, and that ultimately means that there is a larger than average chance that your decisions may be somewhat ill-informed. Appreciating the apparent distrust of data As often as not, when the proverbial cookie actually crumbles, many such naysayers are oft quick to blame their actions on a somewhat nefarious distrust of data-driven analytics. The convention of such thinking is often colored by an underlying attitude that their proposed bold and unconventional approach was itself thwarted by the “bean counters’ imagined and misplaced trust in the very data which they ignored. It’s rather like trying to beat the house at a casino, in so much that professional gamblers can make a living from doing so, but only because they take into account both the odds and the law of averages. In short, they use the available data and approach gambling in an analytical and methodical way rather than relying on any “gut instinct” or indeed, Lady Luck herself.The fact is, that statistics do normalize over time as historical and accumulated data is analyzed, revealing patterns that the human brain may be both unable to detect or formulate. The problem of flashbulb memory Thanks to something which has been described as the “flashbulb memory” problem, humans tend to recollect extreme and unexpected or traumatic life events over more mundane historical occurrences. The upshot is, that business executives and entrepreneurs are more likely to remember exceptional outcomes with (as research also suggests) not the best of clarity or accuracy either. This explains why many of their unexpected and unusual outcomes become lodged in some kind of business folklore, despite being outside of the norm. The potential of data in your business It is no secret that most marketing teams across virtually every type and size of endeavor have been analyzing performance data to some extent or another for decades. This used to work fine when combined with the human touch and everything in the garden was rosy so to speak. Unfortunately, businesses now handle huge amounts of data and the only efficient way to deal with such data is through up-to-date IT systems that are programmed to collect, store, and analyze it. Even if we were to use data-driven scenarios to balance the possible decisions we formulate from our own experience and gut feeling, we would already be making massive use of its latent potential. Through testing and comparing, data and instinct can strike the middle ground of making important business decisions. Setting out data usage parameters To even consider the idea that data-driven decisions are only relevant to the higher echelons of corporate business could prove to be a costly misconception. The truth is that while those balancing atop the giddy corporate ladder are likely to deal with the bigger bananas of the company, data is also proving to be an invaluable resource to those beavering away on the lower rungs. Rather than akin to the early days of data imputing, the time-honored adage that “the data is only as good as those who input it’ is still as relevant today and those who set the parameters of data usage do indeed carry a hefty weight of responsibility. Making data work for your business The default setting for data is that your organization is lumbered with it to some extent or another. Through improved protective legislation, any entity which holds data is duty-bound to keep it secure and to advise the owners of its intended use within the organization. It is to this end that data management has become such a “hot potato” and also why some businesses have resorted to handling it like liquid Kryptonite. The bottom line is that all that data isn’t going away anytime soon and, worse still; the “data mountain” will just keep on growing. The good news for virtually every business and organization which collects data, however, is that it can be put to use. Data is everywhere, including every business system and accounting software that you use. The key to making the most of that data lies in how you choose to use it within your organization. Investing in data management systems From accounting and finance to marketing and sales, every department and function of your business is continually collecting valuable data. Entities that are committed to gaining the maximum benefit from their available data already appreciate the value of investing in the relevant software and other systems. Through integration with your existing or additional systems, proprietary software platforms will filter, store, and analyze your data. It can then, potentially be put to work and used to predict possible outcomes across virtually every department and business activity. Astute owners and managers who are able to visualize the potential of data usage are among those most likely to find themselves at the forefront of this ongoing digital age.

    Read More
  • Dashboard Templates – Why You Need One and What to Look For

    Business in this day and age has become much easier to navigate with the advent of advanced Business Intelligence (BI). More and more managers and business owners are utilizing bespoke dashboards to monitor their business data and specific Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). What is a Business Dashboard? A Dashboard is a visual business resource that displays key business statistics in real-time; giving the user an overall picture of the ‘health’ of their business. Information is collated from various data sources such as Customer Record Management systems (CRM’s) or various other databases like e-mail or website data banks. It is then sorted and calculated to provide a top-line figure to demonstrate business performance against pre-defined objectives. These statistics, which previously would have taken many man-hours to collate and calculate can beviewed at the touch of a button and allow the user to make informed decisions based on specific business intelligence. What Can A Business Dashboard Tell Me About My Business? You can gain a wealth of information with the right business Dashboard template. Here are some of the main benefits: Real-Time Visibility: You can see key data information at a glance in ‘real-time’, any time. Measure Performance: You can measure your business's performance against specific KPI’s and effect change accordingly. Time Effective: Removes the need for analyzing countless reports and data sources to extract the same information. Long and Short Term Goal Progress: An effective business Dashboard allows you to measure your performance not just against current KPI’s but against long and short term business goals. Identify Individual Performance Improvements: Your Dashboard can be tailored to identify not only departmental performance but that of individual employees aiding both employeesrecognition and the restructuring of an individual KPI’s where areas of improvement are identified. What To Look For In a Dashboard Template A Dashboard is ultimately a template to determine what statistics are to be viewed and in which format. Most Dashboard templates use visuals like line and bar graphs to demonstrate summarized statistics. Choosing which visual aids as well as which specific data to display are just two key decisions you will need to make when choosing the right dashboard template for your business. Which Statistics? Identifying the statistics you want your Dashboard to display is your first key decision when planning your Dashboard template. This is usually derived from what business questions you want answering, many of which will be associated with specific KPI’s. You might for example want to show your production statistics against a daily, weekly, or monthly KPI. If your goal is to produce 500 units of a specific product per day then you can program your Dashboard template to not only show your production in real-time but to measure it against your target KPI and against previous days, month, or even years production. In addition, it can project forward as to your overall anticipated production working at the same rate within one month or quarter. This type of information is invaluable as it allows you to adjust key business resources in a timely manner to ensure your targets are met or adjusted accordingly. The same types of statistic can be applied to sales, marketing or even human resources and customer service. Your Dashboard template can display numerous summarized statistics at one time and as such can be used by business owners to view overall data or departments to view data that is specific only to them. Data Importation For your Dashboard template to correctly perform its function it will need to source data from various data banks within your business. Data can be input by employees for your dashboard to calculate summarized information from but this can be very time consuming and has a high risk of human error including the wrong data or old or incomplete data being added. Ideally, your Dashboard data should be fed via an API (Application Programming Interface) which is programmed to work with your existing business systems. This will securely, automatically, and continuously connect with the correct data and reformat it was necessary to calculate real-time statistics against your business KPI’s and display them on your Dashboard Template. Mobile Access As more and more businesses are opting for remote or fragmented working, the Dashboard template you choose should be able to be accessed not only via computers in your internal business systems but through a secure cloud-based technology to enable access via mobile devices any time and in any geographical location. Visual Impact As there will be a variety of users on your Dashboard your template should reflect that and be clear and easy to understand as well as allowing ease of functionality. It is advisable not to overcrowd your template and wherever possible use visuals to demonstrate specific data. Icons are also a great idea instead of words. An up or down-pointing arrow will be universally recognized as an increase or decrease, the perfect space-saving option. Using combined graphs is also a great way to maximize space. For example, you could use a bar chart to show specific data ie. How many units are produced each day over a certain period and then, within the same visual media use a line graph to show the growth or decline comparison of those ‘actual’ statistics? Systematic Display An effective Dashboard should display statistical information in a systematic order so that users can understand each data set and how they relate to each other. This will also aid the ease of interpretation of reports produced from the Dashboard template viewed outside of the Dashboard itself. User Training Whilst the ideal Dashboard template should be self-explanatory to a certain extent, a professional business practice would be to provide user training and/or a user manual to assist with its use. This should not only cover the statistics and what they mean but how these statistics can be used and interpreted within certain departmental and KPI structures. Many Dashboard templates give the option to vary data by using the certain drop-down or tick box methods to specify a certain time frame, user, or departmental statistic you wish to view. As such, knowledge of how to access this information and understand from which data this information is calculated will be invaluable to user ‘buy-in’ of your Dashboard template and its overall benefit to both the business as a whole and the individual user. Which Dashboard Template? Once you have considered all of the above you may wish to try and produce your own Dashboard based on ready-made templates that are available through various sources including the net. There is, despite what advertisers may say, no ‘one size fits all’ template as every business is unique. It is true that many businesses share similar KPI’s such as sales or productivity targets and growth but there will be many metrics that will be bespoke to your business. Just as you are the expert in your business, there are many experts in BI, especially in Dashboard template creation who can advise and guide you through not only the initial set up process but the ongoing use of your Dashboard and advanced options once the basics are in place. This is certainly an area of consideration when looking to implement a fully functional Dashboard template that will fit your business needs and serve any business expansion in the future.

    Read More
  • 5 Business Intelligence Tools You Can't Do Without

    Business intelligence is exactly what it sounds like. If any commercial operator in the digital age wants to be intelligent in business, they need BI. Sadly, many don’t realize this or don’t invest in BI because they think they can’t afford it. Really, smart operations can’t afford to not invest in BI. With 2020 up and running, options are better, more accessible, and cheaper now than ever; only an unintelligent business manager would enter the 20s using teenage weapons. The Different Types of Business Intelligence Tool.  Reporting Tools You’re familiar with the places where your data lives, and how to find it, but do you know what it’s telling you? BI gives you reporting tools that tell you more than you think you need to know; that’s how smart they are. They pick up insights about your own activities from within your data which guide you into making better business decisions. As an example, many operators use group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to obtain discounts on supplies and services. These are essential for most businesses, but BI reporting tools tell you how much you’re paying compared to local, national, and global averages. This means you can see in an instant how much you could be saving, rather than what you currently pay using your current GPO. Smart BI company Una produces a GPO tool that makes these figures much more accessible and understandable; way better than staring at a spreadsheet. Dashboards Dashboards are the antidote to spreadsheets and a whole range of other outputs that take an age to make sense of. Rather than having to search and sort on the relevant column, use macros, and more, is designed to show you what you want to see, straight away. Best of all, a dashboard will highlight every single stat that’s important to you. Computer coding is all well and good, but it’s not in the pocket of many business leaders. For this reason, Domo has a superb dashboard tool, which connects to hundreds of relevant sources of data, without any coding trauma. Use Domo, and you can drag and drop widgets to where you want them. These customize views and include built-in tools that pop up immediate visuals, ideal for presentations. The big picture, rather than the small stuff. Predictive Analytics Tools Talking about the big picture, there’s nothing bigger in business than being one step ahead of your competition. With that in mind, in the digital business environment, predictive analytics tools offer exactly that, on as many screens as you want. Leadership teams use SAP solutions to test their theories before they put them on the market because they know that SAP is the market leader in predictive analytics. If a business truly understands its starting position, and how that is perceived in its desired market, that business has a built-in advantage. Predictive analytics exploits the very best of data queries and uses the results to predict how any business offering is likely to perform, both at the present and in the future. As a strategic tool, predictive analytics is perfect. Data Discovery and Exploration Tools As things stand, even the smartest BI solutions leave some things to chance. This could mean mining really helpful data without knowing where to put it. Alternatively, business intelligence providers might source their data in ways that generate mounds of data which are nothing but intimidating. To solve this problem, there are self-service BI solutions which have data discovery tools to help real people find what they are looking for. The BI provider Looker takes a user-friendly approach to data discovery and exploration. A lot of outdated BI solutions need a large number of staff, with consequent financial implications, to analyze data. Much of this is wasted because people don’t know what they’re looking for, or how to find it. Looker solutions have a smart modeling layer interface, which asks as many questions about the enquirer as the data they want to mine. This superbly efficient, end-to-end way of working has been taken up by HP Vertica and Oracle, which means that smaller businesses don’t need to worry about budgeting for future BI failures. Data Cleaning Tools It’s a well-known fact in the digital age that no data is better than bad data. Businesses with BI suites may think they have all bases covered, and are future proof; unfortunately, those businesses may be wrong. A company with a model predicting future sales in Paris, Texas, will only be worth anything if its data model isn’t based on the French version. Oops. It may sound obvious, but this kind of detail is actually extremely, vitally important to any commercial enterprise in the digital age. A computer processor works from the information given to it. With the unimaginable amount of data around the world at any time, where Paris is only as important as who wants to know. Data cleaning tools are the solution to this colossal problem. What they do is prepare data sets for analysis. They delete any data point which is irrelevant, incomplete, duplicated, outdated, or in any way questionable. The very best cleaning tools take this a step further and fill in the gaps where they can. Solutions produced by Sisense, for example, will fill in zip codes in any address without one, using publicly available data sets. With this quality of data to start from, any query produces reliable results. In turn, smart business managers can use these results to inform their reports, suggestions, and decisions. Advances in technology are increasing with breathtaking speed and will continue to do so. If you’re a business with a high digital footprint, you need to keep up with it; if your digital presence isn’t good, you should look to enlarge it. These are the facts in 2020; and business intelligence is, really, absolutely where it’s at. If you have an eye for the future, keep it open and look out there for the BI tools being developed all the time which could really make a difference for you.

    Read More
  • Staying Competitive in 2020 Made Easy With these Five Ways to Use Business Intelligence Tools

    The irony facing many businesses today is that even if they are failing to leverage the huge potential of the mountains of data they compile and collate, they are obliged to hold and process it anyway. It, therefore, makes absolute sense to leverage the most from the opportunities it provides, especially in view of statistics which suggest almost 4 million Google searches are now taking place every single minute! Why BI is too important for your business to ignore it BI (business intelligence) is now a part of virtually every data processing operation and that includes those of your business. Whether you simply choose to use it by default or make the most of the opportunities it offers, is a matter of choice. You ought to know, however, that if you continue to ignore the potential of this rapidly evolving technology you will also be leaving an ever-increasing heap of money on the table. So, if we have aroused your curiosity in the slightest, maybe now is a good time to take a look at the following five ways in which business intelligence tools will help your business to become more competitive in the year ahead. Implementing location-centric strategies There is a myriad of different reasons why you would want to know why one thing sells in one location and not another. The hard truth is that without usable data, you could spend an inordinate amount of time and costly resources attempting to discover what those reasons might be. The good news is that BI provides the resources which will analyze your data to discern what sells best at what time in what location. Also, by comparing your data against that of your competitors and different sales locations within your own database, you will then be able to optimize using up-to-date and relevant data. Refining and optimizing your marketing Unless you really do use a crystal ball (one that works anyway) you will be operating on pure guesswork. That is unless you are harnessing the potential of marketing optimization through business intelligence-driven data. Using BI, you will replace guesswork with cold hard facts which are delivered directly from your own data in simple and easy to understand formats. Effective business intelligence is able to gather relevant data from a myriad number of different metrics including but by no means limited to such things as differing sales sources such as digital assets including social media, websites, affiliate links, and others. Once in possession of such data, you are then able to focus your marketing efforts where they are most likely to provide the optimum results. Using BI to create relevant business models Add blindness and marketing overload are just a couple of the negative challenges which your business has to meet on a daily basis. This provides you with all the motivation you need to ensure that your marketing is modeled on tried and tested strategies that are seen to work in the real world. While it may be true that a smaller sized operation could once have coped with handling its data manually, this is no longer the case and such a method would now prove to be highly cost-ineffective. An entry-level BI driven data analysis system, on the other hand, has the potential to create hundreds of spare hours that would otherwise be spent manually combing over your existing data. Analyzing the behavior of your consumers Whether you have awoken to the fact or not already, the monetary success of most digital marketing platforms already thrives on the collection and use of its client’s data. The bulk of this data is gleaned from identified behaviors and user patterns and it has a direct effect on how such platforms interact further with those users. The really good news is that your business can also benefit from accessing data about how your visitors (potential buyers) and customers behave. From selecting tailored approaches to different client groups and forming relationships to extending consumer lifecycles to creating brand new clients, business intelligence-driven data will facilitate all of them. Utilizing the leverage potential of BI through inventory analysis While retail businesses have already been leveraging the power of business intelligence-driven through such things as EPOS (electronic point of sale) systems for decades, it is now easy to apply to virtually any digital business too. Unlike conventional inventory accounting software such as SAS (software as a service), your own BI driven data systems can be configured to interrogate and analyze your inventory and its movements in real-time. Armed with such valuable information, business owners and managers are then better able to make more informed financial decisions. Such things as overstocks, over-shelf life products, and instances of exhausted supply are then far more likely to become things of the past. Why there has never been a better time to embrace this new technology. Whatever type or size of business you operate it is certain to benefit from the introduction of business intelligence-driven data analytics. The fact is that whether you choose to embrace this rapidly evolving technology or not, you can be certain that many of your competitors will already have done so. Furthermore, thanks to the speed at which business intelligence continues to move forward, the longer you put it off, the more catching up you are likely to have to do. Conversely, by making the astute move into BI now, you will be placing your business or organization at a distinct advantage to others which have not. There is no good reason why any forward-thinking business would not want to improve their profits and position in the marketplace and making the use of business intelligence tools is the quickest and most effective way to do exactly that.

    Read More
  • How Evolving Technology is Set to Improve Business Intelligence

    Since as far back as the early 1900s, modern technology has been making an ever-increasing impact on businesses of all types and sizes. While the role of manual workers may have shifted from labor to administrative roles, few will argue that in virtually every area, these evolving technologies have made life easier and businesses more profitable. In this bold new age where one of the main drivers to invest in business intelligence is that it is essential for keeping pace with your competitors, those who fail to do so are ever more likely to fall by the wayside. The good news is that there has never been a better time for your company or organisation to make better use of the available hardware and systems. Making Improvements at all Levels with Business Intelligence From enhanced communications and seamless accounting to the ability to instantly access information, business intelligence has already permeated into even the most labor intensiveoperations. While IT and mobile communications have long been recognized as leading on the cutting edge, other evolving systems are now vying for marketplace dominance within many business sectors. At the forefront of these rapidly evolving systems is something which is collectively referred to as business intelligence or BI. A brief overview of what business intelligence is Simply put, the term “business intelligence” is something of an umbrella term used to describe the systems and software which deal with data or information within an organization's automated process. While these are more pertinent to data and IT, business intelligence can be seen at work anywhere that technology handles processes at high speed. Some of the benefits of business intelligence for business is its ability to increase productivity, enhance communications and provide improved service to clients. Its main use, however, is in discovering, storing and analyzing the ever-increasing data mountains which modern businesses and organisations are almost compelled to produce. This phenomenon, which is also known as “big data” is the biggest single driver of the expansion of business intelligence. Some common uses of business intelligence in data include: Huge improvements in speed and accuracy of business reporting Instant online or cloud access to analytical reports Fast and efficient data discovery and mining Data processing and storage Real-time business reporting on business management and performance The ability to analyse and predict based on the available data Through business intelligence integration with software, PCs and handheld devices; this data can be made readily available to those within an organisation who need to access it. With this in mind, the ever-present need (if not the necessity) to link business intelligence to your existing technologies becomes increasingly apparent. The importance of IT devices in relation to business intelligence Having realized the huge potential offered through using business intelligence within companies and organisations, it naturally follows that there are several advantages to be had from extending this technology to the use of IT devices. In doing so, you will open up a plethora of opportunities and benefits to your business and your clients including: Streamlined and more efficient production and supply chain operation Enhanced and accurately targeted marketing strategies Improved customer relations (CRM) Smoother operating logistics from raw material supply through to the end-user Accurate and real-time financial information along with improved handling of human resources Bearing in mind these advantages, it becomes clear that any strategy and subsequent investment in business intelligence related to data handling would not be complete without factoring in improved IT and devices. Meeting the challenges of outpacing device obsolescence One of the downsides (perhaps the only one) of the breakneck speed at which this new technology evolves is the very real threat of device obsolescence. When you stop to consider the spiraling cost of the average smartphone or other IT device, “tooling up” a full staff can soon begin to represent a substantial capital investment. Not only is this a burden on finances, but it will also impact on the overall cost of your business intelligence budget. Considering how quickly today’s new device can become yesterday’s obsolete model, this state of affairs presents many owners and company finance directors with a very real challenge. One solution to this dilemma is to simply rent or lease the required hardware with the option to exchange it when the technology moves on. While the business may never actually own the devices, it will benefit from not being restricted by the need for further and unforeseen capital expenditure in the future. By factoring in the device payments as a regular business expense, they will always be able to keep pace with your own business intelligence as and when it evolves. Moving forward with BI One fact you can rely upon is that business intelligence looks set to keep on expanding and integrating with other existing technologies. As these technologies are adapted to keep pace, there is also likely to be a faster rate of obsolescence which will, in turn, create an increasing need for organisations to implement device replacement programs. Those businesses which adapt to these changes now are likely to be among those which enjoy the highest levels of success with business intelligence and all that it has to offer. As is so often remarked in business circles, “there is no standing still in business” and this couldn’t be any truer than in the case of keeping pace with BI and its associated systems.

    Read More
  • The Definitive Buyers Guide to Reporting Software

    If your business or organization handles data, it will also benefit from using some form of reporting software. In the following guide, we will explore what is likely to be some of the benefits and features of reporting software and also examine exactly how this cutting edge technology is defined. So, what is reporting software exactly? In essence, reporting software does as its name suggests, it generates and compiles usable reports from your existing data. Everything from financial information and forecasting to tracking projects can be handled by the right reporting software. Some of the advanced systems will also provide integration with both native and external data sources, therefore, creating reports which can track, monitor, and manage a huge variety of data. How you will benefit from reporting software? Your operations are able to benefit from reporting software in a number of ways while utilizing a diverse range of metrics across departments and systems. Some of the many benefits available include but are by no means limited to: Monitoring and tracking performance of the business Measuring your business’s actual performance is made simple by reporting software that is able to search, discover, and analyze data across all departments. Because such data is viewed in “real-time” it will render an accurate and up-to-date picture of the performance of your operations and projects. The leading benefit of such a system is how the data is able to recognize issues/strengths and take actions based on such data. Providing visualization of interactive data There is little doubt that most if not all business leaders are likely to agree that collected data won’t be much use unless it can be viewed, understood, and manipulated. The good news is that most leading reporting software offers a suite of tools, which will enable all of these functions. From charts and heat maps to diagrams, videos, and device apps, such software is designed to make data and its manipulation available to the end-users on a range of devices. Providing improved productivity One of the key benefits of reporting software is its ability to create virtually limitless dashboards and connotations of your accumulated data. This gives access to easy updating without the need to create the same reports over again. Along with the obvious time savings allowed through such use, effort and man-hours are also positively impacted at many reporting levels. Some of the features you should expect from reporting software By adopting the right approach to reporting software in respect of the unique needs of your business or organization, you will be best placed to enjoy a whole raft of features which it offers including: The ability to generate “on-demand” reports. While even the most basic forms of reporting software will perform more than adequately in providing ongoing scheduled data reports and analyses, a proprietary package is more likely to offer on-demand ad-hoc reporting for your business. Visualization of your data. The best reporting software packages will have the ability to present visualized data in a diverse range of formats and graphics utilizing the existing devices within your organization. Dashboard customization. Having the ability to edit layouts and the format of your data is crucial for both clear interpretation and application of the insights gained. Choosing a reporting software package that reflects those needs is likely to be a major factor in success with data reporting. Data sharing and export. No one is going to argue that the more flexible and user-friendly your data is the more benefit it will be to those who need access to it. Cutting-edge reporting software offers end results in a wide variety of interchangeable formats, along with the ability to be exported to other platforms and points of integration. Reporting software prices. While reporting software pricing is always going to be something of a fluid concept that is affected by the unique needs of your business, there is information available concerning basic starting prices. These indicate that some packages have been available for as little as $8 to $42+ dependent on the number of users. Some things to consider before purchasing reporting software There is every chance that you already appreciate the importance of getting the best bang for your business buck and that should also apply to your choice of reporting software. Unless you already happen to be an expert on the application of reporting software, the primary tool at your disposal when choosing the right system is the ability to compare like-for-like. This is likely to be especially true when comparing by price alone. The balancing act of pricing and affordability. Whether you choose the SaaS (software as a service) option or you decide to own a system outright, it is essential that you carry out some due diligence before making a final decision. From backup and online help to training and the life expectancy of the system, they will all need to be factored in. Considering software and hardware integrations. If you are to gain the maximum benefit from your investment in reporting software, integration is going to be one of your top priorities. The ability to work in synchronicity with your existing hardware and software is the best way to create the maximum use of such systems. A few of the systems that are considered a prerequisite to work in tandem with reporting software include CRM, dashboards, ERP and other business intelligence systems. Where is it headed? If considering how powerful reporting software is likely to impact on your operations hasn’t made you dizzy already, you should stop to consider the very real implications that other emerging technologies will have in conjunction with it. The emergence of conversational chatbots as a mainstream reporting function. If the reports are to be believed, some 70% of small businesses are anticipating the use of chatbots in the not-too-distant future and there are some obvious applications for their use in conjunction with reporting software. Having witnessed the phenomenal growth in voice-activated software over the last few years, the implications for both businesses and end-users are looking exciting, to say the least. From simple FAQs to more complex queries, it looks as if the tech still has plenty of room left to grow. Machine learning, AI and evolving business intelligence applications. One thing that all business owners and managers are in agreement about is that the rate at which these new technologies are evolving is only likely to increase. Machine learning is now finding its way into even the smallest of companies, while learning algorithms are becoming commonplace within the diverse systems already in use. The implications of these technologies for reporting systems are nothing short of huge and businesses that choose to invest in existing systems are certain to be poised on the cusp of this rapidly forming wave.

    Read More
  • Top 3 Tips to Help You Select the Business Intelligence Tools to Take Your Business Forward

    Why Business Intelligence (BI) Tools? Business intelligence tools are fast becoming an essential rather than a choice for businesses of all shapes and sizes. With the necessity of driving the market place, the need to make well-informed buying decisions has never been more important. The good news is that with so many programs and platforms available, businesses and organizations can gain a further competitive advantage by making the best choices. In the following article, we aim to guide you through our top 3 BI buying tips. Avoiding Buyer's Regret Once solely the domain of the enterprise businesses and huge corporations, business intelligence tools are now both affordable and available to any business. Another reason why these systems are a must-have is that business is in effect, data-driven. The tools needed to work with the data can also be cloud-based thus doing away with the need for much of the specialist IT input required in the past. Bearing in mind that a medium-sized company can expect to invest anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 in this technology, mistakes can be costly and that means there is plenty of room for buyer's regret. Due diligence and plenty of research are going to be key factors for any operation that intends to get the best out of their BI tools investment strategy. Predictions suggest that a staggering 71% of businesses and organizations will not be “up-to-speed” with BI. Discovering What You Need From Your BI Tools While it may seem like a pretty obvious point, having an understanding of why you need BI and what your expectations are is the first step. Although it sounds ridiculous to suggest, sometimes we are so busy doing the business that we don’t fully understand or are not aware of the real needs and problems within it. Consider utilizing the expertise of consultants and other specialists to assist in assessing the real needs and priorities of the organization or business to determine which BI tools are likely to produce the best solutions. Certain BI tools are, of course, more appropriate for specific data purposes and even beyond that, the configuration of them to highlight and work with aspects that are the key to your own business strategies is crucially important. These metrics will vary depending upon the type of business you operate. As a rule of thumb, the highest feature demands are likely to be 95% visualization, 92% analytics, 89% reporting, and 65% data mining with the balance shared between data warehouse and customization at 39% and 26% respectively. Ensuring Everyone “Buys In” While you may own the business, the reality is that your much valued human resources run it on your behalf. While we have already taken a good look at the buyer’s remorse, there is something far worse and it comes in the form of an unwanted and unwelcome gift. Failing to consider and onboard your end-users could, therefore, be one of the most costly and stressful mistakes you are ever likely to make. Perhaps one of the most useful exercises a business could perform during their BI tool selection phase is to open up a constructive dialogue with those who are going to be working at the sharp end of the stick. Bringing your teams in on the early discussions with vendors and any consulting specialists is, therefore, likely to prove most beneficial in the long run when making those important BI choices. Further Points Worth Bearing in Mind Dealing with the Jargon It can be confusing enough for business owners and organizational leaders who are being thrust into the unfamiliar world of BI and data analytics without the added hassle of understanding the sales speak and jargon. Doing a little homework in respect of gaining some basic understanding of the main terminologies and function descriptions of BI will have you and your key users much better prepared and less easily bewildered by the sales reps. Importance of Comparing Like-for-Like Just as there is no point in investing in features and functionalities that your business is never going to be able to make use of, it also makes little sense to proceed purely on cost. It is essential, therefore, that you carefully take into account everything from product support and usability to a system's agility and scalability in terms of your unique business model. Choosing What Works Best Every business and organization will have its own unique requirements and these will more likely than not play a key role in your final BI tool buying decision. Taking into account data source integration and your existing data collation methods such as Excel, accounting, and other sources will also have a strong bearing on your final decision.

    Read More