Doesn't it seem like every small and midsized business must be online to have a shot at being profitable? When you look at the recent business lore, from Dell's profitability selling refurbished computers through Twitter to Gap's experimentation with social media to increase foot traffic and sales, the logic seems to dictate following the actions of big corporations online. Do what they're doing and what they have done.
So now every small business is seeking profits with every digital marketing tool introduced. Does adding the latest and greatest social media tool bring a profit?
Yet many small-business managers believe implementing many of the newest tools and applications is the strategy for their businesses. Users understand features, but they confuse using the features with solving the business pain. This makes the value of social media and digital marketing more slippery than wet soap.
Moreover, recent business successes feed the misperception. Blogs and SaaS-based startups, from the Huffington Post to Klout, have scaled large numbers of followers and users through social media. Many businesses blindly try to emulate such scale, even using shortcuts in many cases. I have seen one or two companies offer the chance to purchase Facebook fans, in the same spirit as purchasing links. I can't imagine clean engagement data if the seed is a highly biased large group.
SMB managers and owners may learn a lot about what to do and what not to do studying how large businesses use social media. But how a business derives true strategic value from any tool, social media or otherwise, is based on the alignment of its business model with customer access to its offerings. Analytics can remind the business how well it is maintaining that alignment.
Understanding where customers are online dictates the choices for leveraging digital strengths, whether they're assets, resources, or employees. Food trucks have used Twitter to tell regular customers where in the neighborhood they'll be located. Twitter makes sense for a mobile business that wants to share location information and galvanize customers.
A small business also has to be willing to think beyond scaling traffic and consider how it can serve nonconverting traffic. This does take a diagnostic effort -- reviewing Web analytics results, running an A/B test, or conducting an online survey. The review can help you decide which additional actions can attract customers and which cannot.
Having a distinctive capability means that the organization views this aspect of its business as what sets it apart from competitors and as what makes it successful in the marketplace... Without a distinctive capability, you can't be an analytical competitor, because there is no clear process or activity for analytics to support.
Examining nonconverting traffic can require considerable effort and dedicated time, a scarce resource for SMBs and corporations alike. But it can be beneficial in revealing new ideas that, when refined, can help a business excel.
Understanding strategy for an SMB also is essential given the fragmented attention of today's Internet user. The Internet has become a hub for people to discover businesses and services. But with so many methods for that discovery, it is clear that small businesses must refine their use of social media in ways that best work for their strengths.
That's why small businesses should be cautious about emulating another company's social media use outright. It is an expression of strategy, not necessarily the strategy itself.
Broadway - The biggest challenge for SMBs and any experimentation they may want to do is indeed the funds. They can't quite afford that extra employee, and those that are there need to be used as much as possible on the profit generating projects. Experimentation is therefore mostly a sacrifice of limited resources, born out of looking far in the future.
One of the easy things about small businesses is that they are less bureaucratic. Decisions can be made simply and this allows for more experiments, as well as stopping at any point, of those experiments that prove not to be bearing fruit.
aaphil notes the point that experimentation is possible, but only on a limited basis. You are right that SMBs can have a limited capacity, but if the experiement is done offline from business operations and in a small scale, some testing is possible. A mild test of a website redesign can be done outside of a live website - with an editor and browser preview a site can be refined before being unleashed online.
The same can be extended to an app. Digital experimentation can be done with a small lean investment of resource and time. The key is lean.
Going back full circle in our discussion, this is where some kind of analytics will come in handy. Obviously, the technology used will depend on budget, but being able to track results (what works and what doesn't) can be very valuable in the beginning of a venture. See our post on Steve Chou's experience with using Web analytics to create online store for more on this.
Yes there's that but I meant a more birds-eye view of the process from beginning to end. It's good to have reference points to where failure or unproductive actions can be avoided. If you have the steps down somewhere, this process is alot easier. This is why I try to write down (type) somewhere everything I do.
I have learned alot of things by trial & error. That process works most of the time but sometimes alot is lost in the process if there is no real tracking. So in the Lean Startup, he outlines the 3 step process to minimize time to market. I tried it & it takes alot of the fluff out of the process. I realized a few time that some of the 'steps' I thought were necessary are insignificant. It's just a matter of using the feedback from consumers to make your offering more valuable.
Diego Klabjan, chair of the INFORMS University Analytics Program Committee and program director for Northwestern University's Master of Science in Analytics program, gives his advice for figuring out where to get an advanced analytics degree.
What Works: Open Source Analytics Software International Institute for Analytics WebinarOn Wednesday, Sept. 24, join IIA CEO and Co-Founder Jack Phillips, along with featured guest Gary Spakes, as we explore the five modernization stages that analytics hardware/software have experienced. We will discuss the considerations when calculating total cost of ownership of the analytics ecosystem.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Cary, NCThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Essential Practice Skills for Analytics Professionals Drawing on best practices from the field, this INFORMS course helps analytics professionals add value from beginning to end: listening to clients, framing the central problem, scoping a project, defining metrics for success, creating a work plan, assembling data and expert sources, selecting modeling approaches, validating and verifying analytical results, communicating and presenting results to clients, driving organizational change, and assessing impact.
Analytics 2014 The Analytics 2014 Conference is a two-day, educational event for anyone who is serious about analytics. This annual event brings together hundreds of professionals, industry experts and leading researchers in the field of analytics. All Analytics members save $500 on conference fees by using promo code ACAA.
Premier Business Leadership Series 2014 The Premier Business Leadership Series is an exclusive event for senior executives and decision makers that focuses on solving the current issues that affect governments and businesses globally. The Series is a unique learning and networking experience focused on the most innovative leadership strategies and analytic solutions for competing in todayâs global economy.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- BostonThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Data Exploration & Visualization Get hands-on training that focuses on the critical steps in the process of analyzing data: accessing and extracting data, cleaning and preparing data, exploring and visualizing data. This INFORMS course will use several of the most popular software tools intensively, and provide an overview of the range of software options.
Foundations of Modern Predictive Analytics In this INFORMS course, learn about modern predictive analytics, the science of discovering and exploiting complex data relationships. This course will give participants hands-on practice in handling real data types, real business problems and practical methods for delivering business-useful results.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- AtlantaThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
The Current Discussion
Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus? The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question. The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
The hospitality industry gathers massive amounts of customer data, and mining that data effectively can yield tremendous results in terms of improved CRM, better-targeted marketing spend, and more efficient back-end processes. Roger Ares, vice president of analytics at Hyatt Corp., discusses the ways he and his staff use big data.
Charged with keeping track of travel assets, including employees, iJET International relies on data management best-practices and advanced analytics to keep its clients in the know on current and potential world events affecting travel, Rich Murnane, Director of Enterprise Data Operations & Data Architect, told All Analytics in an interview from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference.
Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer for the Center for Generational Kinetics and keynote speaker at last month's SAS Global Forum 2014, describes how Gen Y professionals are enhancing the makeup of multigenerational analytics organizations.
From analytics talent development to the power of visual analytics, All Analytics found a variety of common themes circulating throughout the exhibition floor and session discussions at the 2014 SAS Global Forum and SAS Global Forum Executive Conference events held last month in Washington, DC.
Talking with All Analytics live from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, Eric Helmer, senior manager of campaign design and execution for T-Mobile, discussed the importance of customer data -- starting internally -- in devising the mobile operator's marketing plans.
The big-data analytics market can be a confusing place. Among the vendors vying for your dollars are traditional database management providers, Hadoop startup services, and IT giants. In this video, All Analytics editors Beth Schultz and Michael Steinhart sit down in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Doug Henschen, executive editor of InformationWeek. Henschen discusses use cases for big-data analytics, purchase considerations, and his recent roundup of the top 16 big-data analytics platforms.
At the National Retail Federation BIG Show last month, All Analytics executive editor Michael Steinhart noted a host of solutions for tracking and analyzing customer activity in retail stores. From Bluetooth beacons to RFID tags to NFC connections to video analytics, retailers must find the right combination of tools to help optimize the shopper experience, streamline operations, and boost revenues.
The days when historical shipment trends and gut feelings were enough to forecast retail demand accurately are long over. SAS chief industry consultant Charles Chase outlines the benefits of pulling real-time sales information from point-of-sale and product scanner systems, then flowing that data into dynamic forecasting tools from SAS.
With today's advanced visual analytics tools, you can stream data into memory for real-time processing, provide users the ability to explore and manipulate the data, and bring your data to life for the business.
Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.