Technology offers many tools to business owners. Some of the newer ones that are emerging involve business intelligence and can provide a competitive advantage at a very low cost. These tools are emerging within a context of rapid technological changes. Here are a few:
Sources of data are easier to find and easier to use. There’s a whole new technology out there allowing users to put together their own dashboards, set parameters on the kinds and amounts of business intelligence they want to receive, and so on. On the up side, the cost of business analytics is coming down rapidly and in many cases is free (the analytic tools on Facebook is an example). And data tools can be implemented on a very targeted and narrow focus . On the down side, receiving way too much data without any context in which to interpret it and issues with ascertaining the validity of the data, and the ever-present need to keep up computer skills and hardware.
Greater access to business intelligence tools improves user productivity. Users can discover business opportunities and get to the bottom of problems more quickly. What used to involve paper sources can now be accomplished in minutes, thus freeing up time for more productive activities. Also, since information is increasingly stored in digital form. And all of this happens in real time.
Social media is driving innovation in customer analytics. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter and myriad others, a phenomenon has emerged of customers influencing the preferences of friends and expressing their own. There is great pressure to design tools to mine this information, analyze it and sell it to business owners.
Going beyond numerical analysis of customer behavior, there are now new tools allowing for text analysis. Akin to data mining, text mining techniques and tools allow for a sophisticated analysis of sentiment, relationship extraction, predictive analysis and more. It is a complementary tool to the more objective data analysis.