Many people are happy to see a task or project through and move onto the next thing once it’s completed. After all, delivering something is what gives you that sense of accomplishment. However there is far more that can be achieved during and after delivery that can provide enormous potential to increase the effectiveness of your solution, implementation, or even your business as a whole. It’s the use of analytics, which can be described as the digestion of data in order to identify patterns and trends.
Analytics can help you to identify potential issues before they occur, predict future outcomes, or even categorise for you. All in the name of helping you see the bigger picture and improve overall performance. The best part is that you don't need an IT background to begin taking advantage of it.
The Rise of Analytics
Big data and Analytics are becoming highly sought after tools for many different types of industries. Companies involved with marketing, finance, and IoT providers to name a few. This trend could become more prevalent as IT continues to intertwine itself into our civilisation to the point where we can’t live without it.
“This could be you…” - Tom Cruise, Minority Report (Source)
There are some steps you can follow in order to ensure that you are one day prepared to take full advantage of the benefits that modern analytics can offer:
If you follow these steps in order from 1 to 3 you can stop and rest at any stage of your implementation and still gain a great benefit. If you at least collect data, you will always have the option to move onto the next step in the future. If you get to the analyse stage, then you are able to take advantage of the patterns and trends in your data. If you get to the act stage then you are most likely going to see constant benefits from your implementation.
There are a number of ways for you to collect analytics, it just depends for which platform you are trying to collect data for.
If you are looking at your website, Google offers it’s own analytics solutions to help you track the people that are visiting your site. The downside is that you are relying on the user's web browser to send you the correct data. The advantage of using an enterprise solution such as Sitecore is that the data is collected on the server side of your website and is therefore more reliable and comprehensive.
Other software, such as project management software Jira or accounting softwares, have their own inbuilt reporting tools allowing you to export your data where it can be analysed by other software built for the task.
To begin with, you have to collect data that's relevant to your platform and what you want to achieve. For example, if your end goal is to have more parents visiting your website from the monthly school newsletter, you could think about collecting data about the link that the parent is following. You could record the following information:
- where is the link,
- what is the subject of the content around the link,
- what is the sentiment of the content around the link,
- and how many users click on the link.
After doing this for each link in the article you would have a myriad of information to analyse in order to identify any patterns.
The next step, is to identify patterns and trends in your data. This can be done with many different tools from Microsoft Excel to purpose built power houses such as PowerBI or Ulysses. A study by the Dresner Advisory Service found that Analytics users look mostly for Reporting tools and dashboarding when looking at Analytics platforms. In terms of features, prediction tools and clustering were most important to users.
You can also analyse and find patterns in data collected using deep learning or machine learning regression or categorisation algorithms. Once the stuff of science fiction, it's now in the hands of capable developers to build solutions that can identify and act on patterns in a more effective manner than even humans. Soon this kind of machine learning will extend to readily available chipsets which will make learning faster and more natural than ever.
If your solution is important, then it’s important to talk to consultants with knowledge in the analysis area and with the skills to use and implement these tools and technologies.
Latize Ulysses is a data analytics and visualization tool. An interesting case study could be the use of it to analyse student records and identify patterns across their school engagement. Another could be to use it to piece together the many identities of a suspected terrorist to track down their past and present location. The possibilities are endless when you have the ability to gather and analyse data, as well as modify the platform to your needs. This is something that Ulysses does very well. It can even be tied together with enterprise analytics collections suits like that of Sitecore of large data like implementations.
For example analysing your data with one of these platforms could allow you to then work out how to enact a personalisation strategy for Sitecore. Once you have collected the types of users you attract, you can group them together into the most effective targeting clusters. These Clusters become your personalisation profiles which you then use to modify the site based on these visitor types.
The only way that intelligent services such as Samsung's new AI assistant, Bixby, or Google Home can appropriately make suggestions to their users is to complete the previous steps, to Collect and Analyse. What the user sees at the end of the process is the Act step, where the AI Assistant, also known as the agent, gives the user their suggestion or answer. Many companies get to this stage but do not implement it, or do not implement it properly.
Making use of your analysis of data can be as simple as making changes after reviewing the analysis results, or allowing systems like Sitecore to personalise your website, or even having a Bot engage with users appropriately.
UIPath is a process modelling tool that allows businesses to define processes that can be followed by robots. It can allow you to automate this step and is capable of plugging in and out of many different technologies making it an excellent companion for the Act step when implemented properly.
The reason why projects such as Brainchip are groundbreaking is because of the process of going back to the artificial neuron and telling it that its prediction was correct. This is how the human brain works and it’s the type of technology that will probably make machine intelligence life-like in the future. This is how you must approach the review of your analytics implementation as it will help you to improve for the future and learn from your fortunes and misfortunes.
Everyone is collecting data these days, some are using it for good, but some for evil, the important thing is that your organization does not fall behind this trend which is racing into the future.
[As written by one of our Technical Consultants]