Seven Data Preparation Tools For Business Insights Users – Which One Is Best For You?

Cinny Little

Got data?  But more to the point, got the RIGHT data, and now?  Low-friction and fast access to data are top priorities for data/analytics and marketing professionals in 2017.  Here’s the picture of priorities:  It’s a high or critical priority for 70% of marketing pros to increase their use of data and analytics for marketing measurement and customer insights – their fourth highest priority.  Data and analytics pros’ highest priority – at 60% of data and analytics pros – is implementing or expanding their complete view of the customer across channels, and over 50% are providing self-service data preparation tools to business users.   Firms are stepping up the pace.

What can help with these priorities?  Data preparation tools.  To accelerate time-to-insights and therefore time-to-actions, business end users and analysts who today wrangle data in spreadsheets or other traditional tools need direct access to data and a significant power assist. Data preparation tools can provide this power, but they must balance features and functions to support different roles and use cases and enable appropriate manageability, security, and governance in today's enterprises — while at the same time delivering speed-to-value.

There are relatively few products that meet those requirements, despite claims by many. Some true data preparation players are large, established players in the business intelligence (BI) and analytics space that have chosen to market and sell their data prep tool as a standalone offering, while others are pure-play offerings and, within that, emphasize different features and functions.

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Is Facebook Listening? (And So What If They Are.)

Fatemeh Khatibloo

From time to time, an anecdote comes across our desks that, as researchers, we find hard to leave alone. A few months ago, one of these opportunities appeared, and we thought it might be interesting to lift the hood, and show you how we dig into tough research hypotheses and decide if and when to write about them. Here's what happened.

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Over a period of a few days this winter, we heard from one colleague, then another – 20 in all -- that conversations they'd had IRL ("in real life") seemingly resulted in ads and sponsored posts in Facebook. Given the state of "surveillance marketing," we weren't that surprised, until we read Facebook's T&Cs. There, the company explicitly stated that it wouldn't use data collected from a user's microphone for ad targeting. That's when we got curious.

First, we looked to the obvious: had our colleagues searched for the advertised item after having had the conversation? Had they checked into the same place as their friend, at the same time? Were they on the same network -- and thus sharing an IP address -- as someone who'd searched for the product or service? We rounded up the answers to these questions, and determined that "interest-by-proxy" was an unlikely cause.

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Insights Services Drive Data Commercialization

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

The new data economy isn’t about data; it is about insights. How can I increase the availability of my locomotive fleet? How can I extend the longevity of my new tires? How can I improve my on-time-in-full rate? Which subscribers are most likely to churn in the near future? Where is the best location to build a new restaurant franchise or open a new retail outlet? Business decision-makers want answers to these kinds of questions, and new insights services providers are eager to help them.

A growing number of companies recognize the opportunity their data provides, and they take that data to market: 1/3 of firms report commercializing data or sharing it for revenue with partners or customers.  The recently published Forrester Report Top Performers Commercialize Data Through Insights Services discusses the new trends in data commercialization: who is buying, who is selling, and what offerings are available, from direct data sales to the delivery of data-derived insight services.

While some commercializers avail themselves of data markets such as Dawex or DataStreamX, many are creating more sophisticated data-derived products and services. They are becoming insights services providers, often as an incremental offering to their existing customers.  Some offer insights based on smart products and IoT analytics. Siemens Mobility, Boeing, and GM offer predictive maintenance for their planes, trains, and automobiles. In the agricultural products industry, companies such as Monsanto and DuPont offer services that prescribe when and what farmers should plant, when certain interventions, such as water or pesticide applications, are advisable, or when to harvest.

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Insights Services Leaders Deliver True Decision Support

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

The explosive growth of the data economy is being fueled by the rise of insights services. Companies have been selling and sharing data for years. Axciom and Experian made their name by providing access to rich troves of consumer data. Thompson Reuters, Dun and Bradstreet and Bloomberg distributed financial and corporate data. Data brokers of various kinds connected buyers and sellers across a rich data market landscape. Customers, however, needed to be able to manage and manipulate the data to derive value from it. That required a requisite set of tools and technologies and a high degree of data expertise. Without that data savvy, insights could be elusive.

The new data market is different with insights services providers doing the heavy lifting, delivering relevant and actionable insights directly into decision-making processes. These insights services providers come in a number of flavors.  Some provide insights relevant to a particular vertical; others focus on a particular domain such as risk mitigation or function within an organizations such as sales, marketing, or operations.  

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Only The Brave Need Peek Beyond The Veil Of Digital Disruption

James McCormick

The discussions at eCommerce MoneyAfrica Confex last week definitely sharpen my African perspective on digital commerce. While behind in some ways the continent is miles ahead in others.

I was specifically impressed with some of informal discussions on the rise of peer-to-peer commerce and engagement.  Its potential impact on collapsing the value chain between supplier and consumer made me sit-up and listen as the resultant disruption –should p2p deliver even an iota of its promise- is staggering.

What is to become of large financial services enterprises and centralized trading organizations when the majority of services are provided by crowds and peers coordinated by software? Same for wholesalers and retailers? Consider a scenario where we order shopping lists via the future incarnations of Alexa and Siri.  These agents then negotiate (on our behalf) for products directly from mulitple primary suppliers before “Uber-like” services collect from multiple locations; and deliver the requested product list at the exact time and location of convenience. How relevant will the supermarket be then?

It feels like a P2P wave is not too far off – and the vast majority of enterprise are blindly staring into a tsunami of disruption the likes of which they can't even imagine never mind prepare for.

The Data Economy Is Going To Be Huge. Believe Me.

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Are they serious? I've just finished reading the recent Communication on Building a European Data Economy  published by the European Commission. And, it’s a good thing they're seeking advice. The timing is perfect. I’m in the thick of my research for a new report on data commercialization. When I first published It’s Time To Take Your Data To Market the idea was merely a twinkle in people’s eye. Today that twinkle is much

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You Need a Customer Insights Center of Excellence – Get Started With What You Have Now

Cinny Little

There’s a big insights gap out there. Not enough insights are turning into actions that matter, despite continued investment in data, people, and technology.  For example, in 2016, data and analytics pros reported that firms base only 49% of business decisions on quantitative information and analysis as opposed to opinion.  That’s up from 2015, but only by 3 percentage points – out of alignment with the investment in insights capabilities.  You feel the pressure, I know.  So, it's action time - to drive more value from insights.

For sure, firms today have bright spots of insights value –  for example, in digital channels, where A/B and other testing approaches enable continuous optimization of customer interactions that matter most to business outcomes.  But disparate bright spots are not enough, and businesses must move from insights-spotty to insights-driven.  Research by Forrester colleagues Brian Hopkins, James McCormick, and Ted Schadler paints the picture of what great looks like in insights-driven business.  Such firms organize and operate differently to take advantage of data and analytics in every aspect of their products and operations, and that closed-loop approach is embedded everywhere in the organization.  That's the end goal.  Customer insights teams must up their game now, and a center of excellence (CoE) is a first step.

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The Beginning Of A New Age For AI

Brandon Purcell

These days it seems like you can't open a newspaper (ok, web browser) without coming across an article on artificial intelligence. Well publicized breakthroughs like Google AlphaGo's unprecedented victories over human Go champions have heralded the promise of a new golden age for AI. Add to that the personification of personal assistants in Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa coupled with Salesforce's “resurrection” of Albert Einstein and the rampant proliferation of AI-related startups - and the AI buzz becomes more of a cacophonous clamor.

To put it mildly, this is confusing for businesses, who are trying to determine what is real and what is mere snake oil. Will AI achieve its transformational promise, or will it join the trash heap of over-hyped technologies?

Forrester believes AI will significantly disrupt the way organizations win, serve, and retain customers... eventually. To do this, it will take massive amounts of data to train artificially intelligent systems to perform their jobs well enough to replace their human counterparts.

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Context Matters: Functional Or Domain Challenges Cross Industries

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

In a previous blog, I outlined how context matters, and specifically how the industry context in which you are doing business matters to the strategic decisions you make. But there are also commonalities across industries. Some business challenges plague multiple industries such as how to improve customer experience, retain loyal customers, and improve sales whether in the retail or hospitality sector, or how to get the inputs you need to make your products and to get your products to market in a timely manner in  the manufacturing or pharmaceutical sectors. And, everyone these days is increasingly concerned about fraud, risk and security.

 

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Uber's Movement In The Right Direction

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Uber’s new initiative, Movement, is a step in the right direction. Facing criticism, the company decided to open its treasure trove of data to the cities in which it operates. Hidden in the anonymized ridership data are potential insights about the impact of major events, rush hour, lane closures or other factors on traffic flow and congestion.While the details remain to be seen, the website shows dashboards and data visualizations. Uber plans to build out the Movement platform, and will roll it out across cities and eventually to the public.

 

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