With all the technology that surrounds us on a daily basis, there’s more than enough data existing about almost anything you could want. It would be easy to drown in all that data. For businesses, it’s critical to manage big data smartly. This includes making sure you’re not spending time analyzing unimportant data, ensuring that data is collected legally, and keeping data adequately protected and up-to-date so you can gather the right business intelligence from it.
Depending on the industry you are in, you may face especially unique challenges. Healthcare agencies, for example, follow specific rules regarding patient privacy and data security. Banks, law firms, CPAs, and others may also have special security concerns. All companies today—especially those involved in online businesses of some type—must adhere to GDPR policies, the ruling that came out of the European Union on data collection and maintenance. Clearly, handling big data and business intelligence isn’t something you can or should take lightly.
The Big Challenges You Need to Overcome 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, and Getting it Correctly
The biggest challenge during the data capture phase is the accuracy and timeliness of the data. This is a particular struggle for healthcare organizations, since patient health changes all the time. That’s why your dentist, doctor, and pharmacist typically ask you if anything has changed in your medical history since you last saw them. It’s not that they’ve forgotten who you are or that they don’t keep accurate records; on the contrary, they want to be sure their records are accurate and timely.
To overcome the challenge of accurate data capture, it’s essential to put systems in place for capturing and updating data. Consider asking customers to log into their account annually to confirm their data. Ask customers when they call your business to confirm their address, including their email. When new customers input their name and address into a form field, ask them to retype or confirm it to catch any errors. Each of these steps takes only a few minutes and helps ensure accurate data capture.
Squeaky Clean Data
Data cleaning means updating a database to correct errors and update contact information. It may also mean eliminating duplicates. Data from one database can be compared to a second set of data and, if any obvious duplicates are found, they can be suppressed. 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 both Henry and Hannah want 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 record or you can guess.
In any event, 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 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.
Handling Storage and Security
Finally, we have 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 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 scale to accommodate more data so, as your company grows, you won’t need to invest in additional costly hardware. Simply increase your account size with your cloud host company.
Big Data, Business Intelligence, and ASI
Big data and business intelligence pose many challenges for companies, but both are imperative to growing your company. The information you can glean from business intelligence systems is invaluable, providing insight for growth, client acquisition, new products, and so much more. Let Accounting Systems, Inc. help you get that insight. We understand that your company is unique, and your data management software needs to be, too. ASI is committed to creating the perfect software package that provides effective solutions and allows you to focus on improving your bottom line. Contact us today to see how we can set you up to effectively manage your big data and business intelligence.