Business intelligence blog

    What is data analytics?

    Phocas creates data analytics software. We have been helping businesses control and leverage their data for nearly 20 years, but for many people, data analytics is a new tool. Companies create information in the form of data. This information is valuable if you can translate it into useful insights. Data analytics software uses statistical techniques to cluster, segment and score what scenarios happened and then presents them in a simple format so businesspeople can make better decisions.

    Most peoples’ eyes glaze over when you start explaining what data analytics is but often attitudes change when we mention real examples. Take ConvaTec, a med-tech company who use data analytics to determine a competitive pricing limit for its products for public hospital tenders. ConvaTec also uses data analytics to develop new products, motivate its sales teams and find new market segments.

    How does data analytics work?

    In a day, a business generates a great deal of information that has many business benefits, from increasing customer loyalty and profit margins to gaining measurable advantages over the competition. This data, created from across your business and likely aggregated in a central Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)  system, includes information about sales, marketing, products, inventory, financials, employees and more.

    While your ERP can generate reports, it is not a system that everyone can access and use. Working with ERP systems and data often requires additional IT support or trained internal champions, while the process of requesting and receiving reports can take days.

    Data analytics software works with your ERP system to serve as a single source of truth for all your business data. It takes the information that is managed in the ERP and combines it with data from CRM, accounting, marketing, operations and other programs and departments in your business to create a more comprehensive and holistic picture of your business. The information is then converted into easy-to-understand charts, graphs and tables and then delivered to those who need it when they need it on any preferred device.

    Executives, managers and front-line teams can access and analyze a shared understanding of information that drives your business while tracking metrics that are important to their roles and responsibilities.

    What data can be analyzed? 

    According to Gartner, data analytics is the process of analyzing information from a particular domain, such as website traffic. For other businesses, it is applying the breadth of analysis to any content areas (for eg. sales, finance or your supply chain).

    A business can now analyse all of its data. Still, most companies generate so much data that it’s too intimidating to consider the analysis of it all without software like Phocas. Built to make data accessible to all, Phocas allows all people to be able to use the solution – not just data scientists.

    The way Phocas works is with three layers of information. You start with databases that are set-up to collate, configure and store the data you want to analyze, then there is the ad hoc reporting layer which is called the grid. It’s in the grid where you follow your train of thought and answer questions that arise. The grid is set-up to make ad hoc data analysis intuitive.

    The grid is designed to be specific to your business needs and once your data is live in Phocas, you’re unrestricted by set drill paths and canned reports. It becomes your business’ version of the truth.

    The last layer is the visualizations and scorecards which allow you to display your information, so it’s easy to read and share with others.

    Is data analytics right for your industry?

    To get value from increasingly sophisticated analytics you need to be able to trust the findings in front of you — meaning the cost of poor data quality can run high.

    Invest in getting the best data controls and quality feeds to your analytics.

    Ask these questions of your data:

    1. Where does the data come from?
    2. Do we need it?
    3. Once data has been verified and collected for the right reasons, is it secure, compliant and maintained?
    4. How is everyone in the company contributing to clean and structured data

    Choosing an industry-specific solution will make the transition to data analytics simpler. Cloud technology  has facilitated the rise of vertical SaaS data analytics and more bespoke solutions.

    Because vertical SaaS is customized according to industry, a company’s data and insights can be leveraged to address unique problems and to discover new opportunities. For instance, the plumbing and HVAC industry needs to run a lean warehouse.  The ability to run a data analytics solution that helps maintain good inventory control while meeting seasonal demands will be the best choice for a plumbing and HVAC business.

    For more information about what data analytic is and how it can help your industry download our free eBook, Building the case for a data analytics solution.

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    Written by Phocas Software
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