In this digital age in which we live, information is arguably the most valuable resource available to businesses today. There are many reasons for a business to study the data it generates and use it to their advantage. Data analysis is not reserved for businesses of a specific size or sector, rather, it is invaluable to all businesses ranging from sole traders to multi-national corporations. Collecting and analysing data has advantages which allow businesses to operate in more efficient, streamlined and cost-effective ways.

Where to Start With Data Analysis?

The term ‘big data’ refers to the mass of digital information that is generated today by companies across all sectors. Often, businesses are unable to effectively utilise this valuable data due to non-existent or inefficient processes however it’s highly likely your business already has the data needed to improve operations. Gathering big data requires a specialist approach which can prove challenging. Utilising a data warehouse product like Amazon Web Services together with Amazon Redshift can automate this process, thereby making your business more agile. Data analysis today can be a highly complex affair but it is possible, with the correct processes in place, to expedite this collection and analysis procedure in order to help you put that information to best use.

Many business are unaware of just how much data is already available to them and even if they know that the data exists, are ill-equipped to deal with processing this data and simply don’t know what to do with it. Collecting and analysing big data shouldn’t be something to shy away from and should be an ongoing business development strategy which fits in with your company procedure. By analysing data a business can:

Understand Performance

Digital data analysis will allow a business to see various aspects of its performance. Any business that has an understanding of employee and business performance is at an immediate advantage as this deeper understanding allows for a more efficient and streamlined business practice.

Make Informed Decisions

Better decisions are made when business owners understand why they’re making those decisions. There are plenty of factors driving the decision-making process from local company dynamics to global trends but having solid irrefutable data to back up those decisions is invaluable. Informed decision-making translates into maximised profit after all.

Understand Customers and Predict Trends

Without data it’s impossible to know who your consumers are, what they like and what they want from you as a business. Following consumer buying trends is one of the easiest ways to understand what your customers want and this will help you to efficiently plan for the future, allowing for redundant processes or products to be eliminated from your workflow.

Personalise Customer Experience

Today’s consumer experience is largely about personalisation, customers want to feel like they are being targeted on a personal level. Data will help you analyse and build an individually personalised customer experience, thereby strengthening the business-customer relationship, and in turn, will increase customer retention.

Carry Out Risk Assessment

Important for any business but particularly valuable to the finance industry, the use of data for risk assessment is crucial. Risk assessment allows any business to predict and deal with set-backs in the most cost-effective way. One particularly invaluable area of data analysis exists in the financial investment sector. It allows a business to draw up a risk profile for each customer to decide whether that particular investor’s rate of return is lucrative enough to warrant dealing with.

Real-world Data Use

Snapplify/Redshift

Snapplify, a digital publishing solutions provider of books, magazines, and newspapers is Africa’s largest education focused e-book aggregator app. The concept and technology was originally developed to meet the needs of a continent with unique education challenges and to allow schools access to information who would, in the absence of a digital platform, struggle to function. Up until 2020, Snapplify was running on a traditional database server which was choking due to the sheer volume of data it was processing.

The solution for Snapplify was to approach Realm Digital to build a faster, more competent system that could keep up with the exponentially growing data streams. The new system was built by utilising Amazon’s Cloudbased Redshift big data warehouse that catapulted Snapplify’s data processing capacity from hundreds of thousands of daily records to several million daily records, at nearly real-time speed.

Elasticsearch

Another example of a platform that is able to process huge amounts of data in near real time is the Elasticsearch search engine. In simple terms, the efficiency and effectiveness of this search engine are due to the fact that it is able to process multiple sources of data simultaneously and then index and store this data for lighting speed retrieval.

Inverted indexing is what make Elasticsearch’s search function so fast. Inverted indexing maps each unique word to a list of documents that contain that same word. It’s this system that makes Elasticsearch different to traditional, slower database systems. This is particularly useful for e-commerce searches of large databases where products contain multiple sets of related information and this information needs to be recalled accurately and at speed.

Conclusion

Whatever kind of company you run, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that collecting and analysing the data available to you is probably the most lucrative business investment you could make in terms of maximising your growth potential.

If you’re not sure where to start with all this ‘big data’ processing, there are solutions available to you. Realm Digital is a software development and technology solutions company with 20 years’ experience in the field. They have worked closely with several South African retail and financial companies such as FNB, MultiChoice, Daily Maverick, Exclusive Books and several other companies to help these businesses grow by making better use of the data they generate.

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