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Friday, January 17, 2020

Understanding Data Analytics and How You Can Find the Right Tools for It

With the rise of big data and the importance of understanding the massive sets of information our organizations regularly produce, data analytics has evolved into a major business priority. Indeed, Forrester has found that truly insights-driven companies are growing at an impressive annual rate of 30%. 
This trending differentiator has led to a significant uptick in the purchase and implementation of advanced business intelligence and analytics tools across a range of industries. While in many cases, this has proven successful, sometimes it amounts to little more than a token effort to “stay with the times.” 
The problem isn’t that these tools are bad, but rather that without a clear understanding of what analytics is, and what it’s for, you’re likely to find it hard to find the platform that fits your needs. Here’s what you need to know.


What Is Data Analytics? 
The question, “What is data analytics?” invites a rather wide variety of answers. Data analytics is concerned with parsing and studying extensive data sets to uncover actionable insights and relevant correlations. However, the phrase is also commonly employed as a blanket term for a wide range of fields of analytical study, varying from business to academia and more. 
Beyond these applications, analytics is appropriate for examining a variety of organizational activities, from manufacturing to logistics and even customer support. A more accurate moniker would perhaps be business analytics, which itself is a part of business intelligence. Regardless of the name, however, analytics today offers a variety of benefits beyond understanding the data you produce. 
For one, it empowers you to create detailed reports that are easily shareable with every relevant member of your organization. In addition, most modern data analytics tools help you easily access the information you need and perform the tests you want without requiring heavy assistance. 
Moreover, analytics has gained in popularity because at its core, it is designed for businesses to ultimately maximize existing operations and resources. As such, it’s worth remembering that there are different types of analytics, each of which can help you learn different things. Descriptive analytics, for instance, gives you a great historic view of your data; diagnostic analytics aids your understanding of the causes of events, and predictive analytics makes short-term projections based on existing data. 
Using data analytics is not just about collecting the data your organization produces—most companies do that by default. The real key to analytics is exploring the insights you can derive from that trove of information before deploying it to amplify your company’s potential. To do so, you need the right tools. 
How Can I Find the Right Analytics Tool? 
Before diving in and picking the first data analytics tool you see, you should consider what you need to gain from it and what you want it to accomplish. Start by asking yourself some important questions: 
  • What are your data needs and constraints? The first step is to know exactly what you need, and what your organization can capably implement without too much strain. Having discussions with your IT team, as well as different stakeholders within your organization to comprehend their technical capabilities can help you gauge the appropriate type of software. Additionally, understanding what your organization needs will help narrow down the search even further.
  • What are the features your analytics tool must support? Most data analytics tools provide a wide range of functionalities. However, you shouldn’t always opt for the most complicated solution you can find. Before settling on your choice, make a list of all the features you could have. Then, filter them into categories like those that are critical, and those that would be nice to have but aren’t required. Make sure your choice fulfills all the critical criteria, as they’re vital for your eventual success.
  • What kind of analytics do you need? Not all data analytics tools are built equal, and though some may claim to be all-encompassing, it’s best to focus on those that best match your industry. For instance, a logistics company has less use for a marketing-heavy analytics tool, while the inverse is true as well. Find an analytics suite that supplies tools tailored to your industry and market.
  • What kind of technical/educational support do you require? No two organizations have the same needs, and you should be very aware of your teams’ technical capabilities. Though new data analytics tools are incredibly user-friendly, they still require some level of expertise. Focus on services that will help your organization ease into the transition and provide the long-term support needed to drive a successful implementation. 
Data Analytics Is Crucial
Regardless of the choice you make in terms of providers, analytics capabilities are no longer optional for your organization. By taking your time to evaluate all available needs and options to form the right choice when it comes to picking the tools you’ll use, you can ensure that your company will be aligned for success and making tangible progress in no time.

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