Using Data to Drive Critical Decisions
Many large corporations use high-cost computer power and technological expertise to capture and analyze data as they look for ways to improve business efficiency and customer interaction. Recently, a new crop of user-friendly technology tools has made it possible for small businesses with limited budgets to do the same.
Owners may appreciate applications that take some of the guesswork out of running their operations. Technology could be helpful for predicting necessary staffing levels, tracking inventories, maintaining fleets of vehicles, or identifying products and services that tend to turn visitors into repeat customers. Web-based services often make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to take advantage of cutting-edge capabilities, including business intelligence and analytics.
Have you thought about how your business could take advantage of this technology trend? It might not involve sifting through massive amounts of data, but rather focusing on the activities that matter most to your bottom line.
Companies with websites can use analytics tools to collect, report, measure, and analyze data on visits, page views, bounce rates, search terms, and more. The data is often presented on a dashboard with tables or charts, which may make it easier to make sense of the numbers. This information can provide insight on prospective customers and help gauge the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
A customer relationship management (CRM) program can help businesses keep track of interactions with their clients and gain insight based on clients’ past behavior and tendencies. For example, it’s fairly simple and inexpensive to capture email addresses and offer promotions tailored to customer preferences. Keep in mind that businesses have a legal obligation to protect sensitive data collected from customers and employees.
Assess New Markets
The U.S. Census Bureau has created the Census Business Builder, a Web tool that provides access to key demographic and economic data for research into potential new business and expansion opportunities. Users can search for information on 49 industries, with local economic data available by county, city/town, and Zip code. This helpful tool makes it easier to generate professional, printable reports (complete with charts and graphs) that can be used for business plans, loan applications, and other business needs.1