Wrangling “Big Data” for Your Business

As one may be able to surmise from a name like, “Age of Information”, the amount of information we access everyday has sort of exploded. It’s everywhere, and in everything. Phones, TV’s, houses and even our water bottles are getting the word smart thrown in front of them because they’re being powered by complex data in one way or another.

Having this large quantity of information available has opened up new doors for a business to learn about itself, such to the point that we’re throwing around a big, broad term for it: “big data”. Take for instance social media, a relatively new concept in which most people have made their personas readily available online. Likes, Follows, Pins, Shares, etc., all of which lead a business to find just who they’re doing business with.

Think for a moment about how much a person can learn about you from looking at all of your social media profiles. Probably quite a lot, right? Age, location, likes, dislikes, occupation, exes (you get the idea); it’s all there! And that’s just one person. Any given business may be interacting with hundreds of different users on the web through hundreds of different channels. But how can you contextualize all that noise?

Business Intelligence for Everyone

Now in preview, the Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) tool does just that. Acting as a hub for your businesses information, the platform consumes the various data you keep and interprets it into actionable visuals.

For example, by hooking up your organization’s QuickBooks Online account to Power BI you get a visual representation of your expenses in a way that makes much more sense than looking into spreadsheets.Power BI can then break down your purchases into categories then organized into a graph, a business may be able to determine where it is overspending and make plans to make way for future business growth.

Lately, I’ve been using the preview with Metro CSG’s Google Analytics account hooked up to it, which has given me a  useful new view of the traffic we get through our site. As you can see in the image below, Power BI allows me to view the days of the week that have historically had the highest number of visits:
Business Intelligencia
Seeing this, I may want to begin posting new blogs right before a high traffic day, as I have done with this post. Similarly, may want to make some site changes on a low traffic day when I can do more testing unnoticed.

And this is just one of many helpful views I get here. With Google Analytics plugged in, I can also see what devices and browsers are accessing our site, unique visitors vs total visitors, page load speed and more, all represented visually. But that’s just one platform, there are many others that can be used.

Currently, Power BI can connect to the following platforms:[row] [column span=”6″]

  • Excel
  • Power BI Designer Files
  • Azure SQL Database
  • SQL Server Analysis Services
  • appFigures
  • GitHub
  • Google Analytics
  • MailChimp
  • Marketo
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
[/column] [column span=”6″]
  • Microsoft Dynamics Marketing
  • Quickbooks Online
  • Power BI Retail Analysis Sample
  • Salesforce
  • SendGrid
  • SQL Database Auditing
  • SweetIQ
  • Twilio
  • Visual Studio Online
  • Zendesk

That’s not to say this is as far as it will go, however. Being in preview, users will notice a suggestion tab in the “Get Data” tab through which additional data sources can be suggested. Similar to any other online Microsoft service, Power BI will hold an update schedule for future improvements through its release.

In its current, free state, Power BI may be worth a try for businesses to see if it can glean any new insight for a platform or two. With new tools like these at the disposal of smaller businesses, enterprise grade insights may be just around the corner allowing for better growth and development.

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