Every morning when you open your eyes, you are flooded with information about the world around you that gives you the perspective you need to get out of bed without tripping over and knocking your head against the floor. Without collecting data about the world around us, we have nary any idea how to get what we want. Data-driven technologies help us get that data and to put it into a perspective we can maneuver so that we can see a clear path from Point A to Point B.
Although data-driven decision making has existed for many years, a couple of new technologies are coming out of the woodwork that have begun changing the game for businesses. Some of them are even helping smaller operations outpace larger competitors. These are the technologies we will have to keep an eye on in the coming years as they continue to shape the playing field.
Business Intelligence Becomes More Accessible And Agile
BI is a pretty old technology that has been around since companies began storing their customers’ information on magnetic hard disks instead of typing them onto sheets of paper. The internet and the advent of cloud computing have made this process much smarter and much cheaper to handle. Now, it’s all compiled through computers hundreds of miles away and then packaged into human-readable chunks of information. Enormously powerful machines make it possible for us to paint a clearer picture of what our customers want and where the trends we observe are taking us. At this stage, business intelligence software is getting to a point where even “mom and pop” establishments can leverage it to compete with the bigger fish.
Web Traffic Analysis Is Getting Smarter
When many people think of web analytics, they go back to a time when software simply would spit out certain variables like bounce rate, the amount of time spent on a page, and the countries most visitors came from. These are all important signals, but they do not give you enough of the “story” to provide an indication of what you could be doing better. In lieu of this, you would often be forced to experiment and work through a very tedious process of trial and error until you achieve something as vaguely similar to the results you want as the output you received from your panel.
Now, there are software applications that allow you to see your visitors’ experience in much clearer detail. Some of them even record their activity on your site and let you replay it. This treasure trove of data will narrow down the problem areas that are making your visitors ignore some of the elements you might want to have them clicking on. For further optimization, at least as far as search is concerned, most platforms include the ability to install various SEO plugins made by diligent developers.
IoT Gives Data Collection A Strong Dose of Steroids
What better tool can you possibly use to understand the world around you than sensors placed directly on what you’re trying to analyze? The Internet of Things has given manufacturers and developers a massive playground with which they can collect, cut, compile, take apart, put together, and analyze data coming from various sensors in basically any device that can house a printed circuit board.]
FitBit is a great example of how consumers are beginning to use data analysis to improve the decisions that they make. It monitors important statistics related to the wearer’s health and tracks their movement throughout the day, providing an intricate and concise analysis of a person’s progress in their exercise routines if they so desire.
IoT isn’t just a collection of toys we can use to track ourselves; it’s a monolithic data collection petri dish. A logistics business could easily combine business intelligence and IoT to track its fleet of trucks, making it easier to spot bottlenecks and develop alternative routing techniques to deliver loads in a more timely and efficient manner. The only problem now, as IoT begins to mature, is making sure that it is secure enough to thwart attacks that could threaten the integrity of these small systems.
Blockchain Guarantees the Integrity of Data
It goes without saying that automatic data collection is unlikely to result in errors, but mistakes and bugs happen sometimes during the process of transferring it from one place to another. In most instances, a tiny diversion from the norm isn't going to cause a catastrophe. But when dealing with very sensitive operations, one small error in a hospital's patient records (as an example) can lead to grave consequences. For these situations, a blockchain provides the highest guarantee of data integrity since every node holding the ledger has to approve each change made to it. This decentralized model of data storage makes it virtually impossible for mischief or honest errors to throw a wrench in any operation.
If we are to take all of human history as a point of reference, the amount of data we collect as a whole will continue to grow as we find new ways of using it to help us refine our processes and models to best fit the public we serve. We may no longer live back in the era when we were first discovering that adding horses to a cart allows us to carry more products, but we still make our decisions based on the same mental processes. Data will continue to be as important 5,000 years from now as it was that many years ago from today. The only difference is that we just keep getting better at collecting it.
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