By now, most businesses understand that future success will be largely dependent on their ability to use big data. Much of the focus surrounding big data tends to drift in the direction of analysis. After all, it’s through analysis that companies and other organizations can discover hidden insights, leading to changes that can help them be more successful down the road. However, one part that tends to be overlooked but is of equal importance is the collection phase of big data. Perform the collection stage poorly, and it won’t matter how good your analysis is. Analyzing incomplete or inaccurate data will lead to poor results. That’s why businesses should be focused on effectively collecting big data. That does pose a challenge, though, since there are many different strategies for accomplishing this. Here are five ways to collect and drive your data to get more value out of it.
- Social Media Analysis
One data source that is a potential goldmine for valuable information is social media. Billions of people use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and more, and what they say and do on there provides valuable insights on current and potential customers. With social analytics, you can pay close attention to how people interact with your products and your brand. Through social media posts, you can collect data on customer sentiment, essentially getting an idea of how they feel about your company and ways you can improve. Consider this as an unfiltered look at customer thoughts. Through text analysis, all of this information can be gathered in real time, providing you with a vast amount of data at all hours of the day.
- Clickstream Data
At the same time, you can collect information on customers through the way they interact with your website. With clickstream data, you’ll be able to gather data on where exactly customers click, how long they stay on each individual page, and more. This helps you determine what catches each customer’s eye, giving you added insight on how effective your website and marketing strategies are. Clickstream data, like social analytics, is a constant flow of information, but it’s data that helps you understand your customers and what drives them to make decisions.
- Video Analytics
One area that is only starting to be explored is the data that can be gained from video. Through improved video analytics technologies, companies can now collect data on everything a camera records either in the workplace or in a store. This is an especially useful strategy since most stores already have surveillance cameras in place. Using video analytics software with those cameras is a relatively painless transition. Like with clickstream data, video analytics records everything customers do on a company’s premises — where they go in a store, what displays capture their attention, the products they interact with, etc. Data from video analytics can be used to plan store layouts, improve traffic flow, make displays more effective, and more.
- Machine Data
Businesses shouldn’t overlook the data they can collect from machines. This is particularly important for manufacturing businesses, where machines with embedded sensors collect data on their operations. With machine data, you can figure out when a piece of equipment needs repairs before it breaks down. This saves on valuable downtime and keeps businesses running without significant delays. Data collection from machines will play an important role in the Internet of Things as that gets up and running. Learning to collect that data now will give you a notable advantage in the years to come.
- Transactional Data
One of the oldest sources of data can still be extremely useful for businesses. As can be assumed, transactional data involves collecting information from regular business transactions like which products are sold, how much money is exchanged, and more. While this data may seem low-tech compared to things like clickstream data and video analytics, it’s still valuable for companies looking for ways to maximize their efficiency. Transactional data gives you a window into the day-to-day dealings of the business, but it also includes data collected from online sales. Using this data gives you a better and clearer picture of what is happening with the organization. With the right analysis, this data can be mined for further insights to spot future trends.
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