There’s no denying that data is everywhere and connects more and more technologies and experiences in our lives. Just think of any time you’ve searched for a product on Amazon, only to see that same product advertised to you moments later on social media. With data littering every online action we take, it’s easy as a business to be overwhelmed by the volume. Thus, it’s also critical to be smart about big data management. This includes knowing what data to analyze, what to ignore, what data collection is legal, and how to adequately protect and update that data for the best business intelligence.
The industry you are in also impacts your data collection challenges. Healthcare agencies, for example, are legally required to track and protect patient privacy and security. Banks, law firms, CPAs, and others may also have special security concerns. All companies today—especially those involved in online businesses—must adhere to GDPR policies, the European Union ruling on data collection and maintenance. Clearly, handling big data and business intelligence isn’t something to take lightly.
Three Challenges of Big Data and Business Intelligence
There are three main challenges when it comes to big data and business intelligence:
- Data capture, which involves the collection of data
- Cleaning, which means updating your data so that it is accurate
- Storage, which includes aspects of data security
Getting the Right Data, the Right Way, at the Right Time
The biggest challenge during the data capture phase is the accuracy and timeliness of the data. There’s a reason your dentist, doctor, and pharmacist often ask you if anything has changed in your medical history each time you visit them. It’s not that they’ve forgotten who you are or that they don’t keep accurate records; rather, they want to be sure their records are both accurate and timely.
To overcome the challenge of data capture, it’s essential to put into place systems for capturing and updating data. Consider sending customers annual reminders to log into their account and update or confirm their data. Or, when customers call your business, ask them to confirm their address, including email. When new customers input their name and address into a form field, ask them to retype it to catch any errors. Each of these steps takes a few minutes and ensures accurate data capture.
Minimizing Duplicate Data
Data cleaning means updating your database to correct errors and update contact information. This also means eliminating duplicates. Compare data from one database to a second set of data and, if any obvious duplicates are found, take action to suppress it. A second set of records with possible duplicates can be flagged for manual review.
For example, a database with “Henry Owens” and an address of 123 Main Street may also contain a record for H. Owens at 123 Main Street. It’s possible that Henry is married to Hannah, and that each wants to receive separate mailings. But it’s also likely that at one time, Henry wrote his name down as Henry Owens and in a second interaction with the company, he listed his name as H. Owens. In this case, your company has duplicate records. One needs to be cleaned. But which one? You can contact Henry Owens and ask him to confirm his information. Or, you can guess and hope you’re correct.
Cleaning up the data on this record reduces the database by one file record. That may not seem like much, but if you mail out physical catalogs each year, or newsletters and updates, you’ve just saved a lot of money in printing and postage costs. You’ve also corrected your customer file so you have a much more accurate record of your current customers.
Managing Storage and Security
Last but not least is the question of data storage and security. Data files can get big—very big—with some requiring several servers to house all the relevant data. Cloud-based storage offers many small to mid-sized businesses both the space they need, scalability for growth, and the security to keep the data safe.
Cloud servers are usually protected by sophisticated firewalls and multiple layers of security. Data hosted off-site also prevents hackers from getting to it through a loophole in your website or from a phishing email. Cloud servers can also expand to accommodate more data; as your company grows, you won’t need to invest in costly hardware. Just increase your account size with your cloud host company.
Get Serious About Big Data and Business Intelligence With PositiveVision
Big data and business intelligence pose many challenges for companies, yet both are vital if you want your company to grow. The information you can derive from your business intelligence system offers many insights for growth, new client acquisition, new products, and more. If you could use a little direction in taking advantage of it, PositiveVision is the partner you’re looking for. Our full-service software consulting team is dedicated to helping your company find the best software fit for collecting, harnessing, and protecting data for the safety of your customers and profitability of your company. Ready to learn more? Contact us today and let’s dig in to that data.