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Analytics and the Cloud: What Your Small Business Needs to Know

March 31, 2017 No Comments

Featured blog by Lewis Robinson, business consultant specializing in social media marketing

Computer woman 300x200 Analytics and the Cloud: What Your Small Business Needs to Know

Properly leveraged data can be the difference between success and failure for a small business. However, purchasing the necessary IT infrastructure and talent to analyze and report on the state of your business is costly. It is also essential to use the correct tools. 88% of traditional spreadsheets have errors, which could critically impair your decision making in this fast paced world. Small businesses will often mistakenly focus on vanity metrics like sales finalized or raw page views, and often fail to dig more deeply into their data.

Cloud business analytics offer small companies a low-cost and scalable entry-point into the complex world of data analysis. Cloud analytics providers offer data analysis in a Software as a Service (SaaS) package, charging businesses a small fee proportional to their monthly usage. They also design and implement the necessary infrastructure for this analytics, saving small business owners significant capital costs. For companies seeking to deploy quickly or collaborate on analytics, cloud analytics platforms significantly reduce deployment time and streamline information sharing. If your small business needs to improve its approach to analytics, a cloud solution might be the right approach.

How Analytics Work in the Cloud

It is vital that any small business owner or manager considering cloud solutions has a high level understanding of the underlying technology. Cloud analytics tools are essentially software programs made available over the internet by way of cloud computing. Using this SaaS model, a digital business platform typically offering dashboards, collaboration tools and product support is made available for a monthly fee rather than an upfront purchase cost. These programs ingest data from your business, including digital engagement and sales data, and offer your analyst tools to gain deeper insights into your company’s performance. These can include common query presets, an intuitive GUI, and various kinds of data storage.

For online retailers or companies looking to invest in their own data analytics talent, many cloud business analytics companies also offer a Platform as a Service (PaaS) option. By harnessing the cloud storage and computing power offered in these platforms, business analysts or data scientists can develop their own complex queries for large or exotic datasets. For companies interested in leveraging big data or in increased flexibility, PaaS solutions offer a middle ground between building their own datacenter and using predefined software.

The Cloud Analytics Market

Because leveraging information is key to the success of any size business, cloud analytics is a rapidly growing market. Forecasters anticipate growth from $7.5 billion in 2015 to $23.1 billion in 2020. Rising to fill this need are companies specializing in analytics for different industries. Small business owners should consider their needs and determine which platform is best-suited for their company. For example, Birst and GoodData are good options for businesses with relatively simple data analysis needs, while IBM Watson is designed for companies with more complex needs. If your small business works with big data, consider platforms like Tableau, which are engineered for the specific needs of big data.

For a small business looking to implement an analytics strategy quickly or to collaborate with partners, cloud analytics platforms offer everything you need to get started. SaaS solutions give your company access to dashboards and collaboration tools right out of the box, and a competitive market ensures that costs will remain low and new features will be added for years to come For companies looking to develop their own analytics software, PaaS solutions to simplify the process abound. As access to the best information increasingly drives success in the modern economy, properly utilized cloud analytics can help small businesses thrive against formidable competition.

 

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