The Internet has revolutionized the way successful businesses communicate with their customers, vendors and suppliers. A Web-based platform helps decision-makers gain insight from their data, discover what customers want and need, and enhance product offerings for long-term profitability.
Every day, data managers face the challenge of managing terabytes of corporate data. Information flows into corporations from customers, vendors and suppliers. Managing, accessing and understanding this data is a complex process. Competitive companies are selecting Web-based analytics to leverage their limited resources and to deliver fresh, relevant information and tools for understanding data as quickly and easily as possible. Web-based analytic technology is delivering high-quality data to key decision-makers to perform whenever and wherever they need it. The evolving technology is providing decision-makers with the information and analytical capabilities they need to understand their customers, predict customer needs and behavior, and ultimately grow their businesses.
Corporate acceptance of Web-based analytics is growing. Decision-makers are evaluating competitive technologies, corporate objectives and resources, and deploying analytical solutions for applications from customer relationship management (CRM) to data mining. According to a recent study, Web-based analytics are expected to experience exponential growth in the next few years. AMR Research predicts CRM expenditures will grow from $3.7 billion in 1999 to $16.8 billion by 2003, a compound growth rate of 49 percent.
Understanding Web-Based Analytics
Web- based analytics deliver standardized analytic tool boxes to end-users' desktops via simple Web browsers or similar technology. Using a Web browser as a "viewer" allows employees to access analytical software and create interactive graphics to discover important trends in their data. In a Web-based analytic system, users access data from a central repository. Users analyze data specific to their needs and then create communicative graphics that will translate the results to associates, from senior executives to plant floor managers. For example, marketers can analyze customer feedback generated from a corporate hotline number. This data can be analyzed, graphically displayed and delivered to product development, manufacturing and senior executives who can make adjustments in real time as appropriate.
Web-based analytics offer decision-makers several advantages including improved data management, real- time access to data and interactive drill-down graphic capabilities. Further, the flexible, scalable technology helps companies implement best practices and facilitate information sharing and collaboration among decision-makers. New technology advances promise greater interactivity and flexibility from data acquisition to in-depth analysis.
Data Integrity and Access
Today, data managers need to cleanse and manage a deluge of data to deliver the right information to corporate decision-makers. A Web-based platform offers greater opportunity for systems integration and multilevel access to sensitive information. Users can access several databases from a centralized location or analyze sections of data, if required. Previously, analytical tools and databases were delivered to users on a customized CD-ROM. This new technology provides decision-makers with real-time data and powerful analytical tools delivering fresh, relevant results.
Another significant advantage is providing a mechanism for secure delivery of sensitive data. In the past, data managers were reluctant to provide users with sensitive data in a CD-ROM format. Now, data managers can protect sensitive data while allowing key decision-makers access to sections of the database from a password- protected, centralized server using security protocols. Other advantages include version control and efficient processing of changes to decision-makers' analytical and data acquisition tools.
With Web-based analytics, users can access current data to make decisions at e-speed. Increased velocity in the decision-making process enables decisions to be made more quickly and corporations to become more responsive to consumer needs. Faster, more accurate decision making can help companies meet emerging customer needs or avoid costly mistakes. For example, real-time data fed from manufacturing plants can help plant floor managers make production adjustments ensuring that high-quality products are delivered to consumers. Senior executives can gain immediate insight regarding emerging trends or anticipate potential problems with their products and services, thus becoming more responsive to changing market conditions.
New, interactive technologies, such as Graphlets, are providing decision-makers greater information. Revolutionary technology is moving graphic presentation from a static appearance to an interactive format using JAVA delivered via a Web browser. Data mining applications can be programmed to allow the user to drill down into the data or to create hyperlinked graphics to relevant documents, giving decision-makers more information about each data point. Background information can be attached to each data point in a chart. For example, financial analysts can view news releases attached to points within a financial times-series chart or more detailed regional information could be attached to data points in a map. New visualization tools are rendering graphics and relevant information on the fly, allowing decision-makers to visualize real- time data changes instantly.
Flexible and Scalable
System integrators and data managers are constantly challenged to build solutions that are flexible and scalable to meet the needs of growing organizations. Delivering analytics over the Web is the perfect solution. A Web- based delivery system avoids the tedious and time-consuming task of fitting individual PCs with the latest software. Delivering technology using a simple Web browser makes it easy for decision-makers to access the analytical tools they need to gain insight from their data. As new employees are hired, the system has the flexibility to add new users and training issues are minimal.
Web-based analytics offer an opportunity to customize analytics by department or region. As a company grows, Web-based analytics can be customized to meet new organizational or directional needs. For example, if a packaged-goods company adds new plants in new countries, the Web-based system can be deployed within minutes. As companies expand or diversify, servers can be added to meet new performance and scalability demands.
Web- based delivery creates a familiar environment, making it easy to train new employees. Delivering analytics via the Web saves time and money for IT managers who don't need to update individual software packages on each employee's computer.
Distribution of analytics from a central server allows administrators to deliver a customized technology toolbox by department, geographic location or need. This deployment method makes standardization easy for companies interested in maintaining best practices. For example, manufacturing plants have different specifications for product development depending on the country where the product is made. The required weight of a bakery product can differ in each of its plants. The analytical tools could ensure that high-quality products are manufactured and varying standards are enforced.
Administrators can receive feedback from decision-makers and make changes to the toolbox as necessary. Because changes can be deployed enterprise-wide within minutes, the administrator can be sure that everyone is using the same tools.
Web delivery is fast and economical, and it can help decision-makers translate results seamlessly across borders. For example, pharmaceutical manufacturers can collect data and analyze results globally using a prescribed set of standards. Standardization leads to improved communication and comparison of results. Powerful visualization tools help communicate these standardized results to senior executives and research team members globally.
With Web- based analytics, decision-makers have access to greater processing power because the analytical toolbox can perform analysis on the server. Greater capacity offers decision-makers greater access to advanced analytics and predictive models.
Administrators can customize their analytical tool boxes to meet a specific need using HTML forms and Web-based software. Traditional software packages cannot be customized as easily or quickly as Web- based software. Further, as needs change, administrators can add or remove analytics from the toolbox using this flexible system.
Greater processing and access to more powerful analytics can lead to a more in-depth understanding of the data, creating greater predictive value and better decision making.
Collaboration and Information Sharing
Colorful, multidimensional graphics combined with emerging interactive technology promise to improve enterprise-wide collaboration and information sharing. Sharing results from desktop packages is difficult, often requiring the end user to have similar software. Sharing results within the enterprise or with international associates is simple using Web-based technology.
Web-based analytics are providing decision-makers with greater access to analytical tools and corporate data to gain insight into their customers' buying patterns and other corporate business. Improved technology and greater understanding of the value of analytical tools promise to help corporations understand reality, anticipate the future and make better, more profitable decisions.
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