We all use computers to run our businesses every day, and data has become a key factor in what most businesses do. Even smaller businesses have begun to use their data for strategic purposes, and in doing so have started a trend that has taken the world by storm. Let’s take a look at the data services that are designed to inform business owners and decision makers on how their business is actually working and how to improve operational effectiveness.
Before we get into how businesses are changing the way they analyze data, we should talk a little bit about the data. You’ve probably heard about the “big data” trend. This is the active collection of all types of data once reserved for large companies. Recently, as technology has been implemented, and its price has dropped, small businesses are now beginning to use these systems to improve their businesses.
When we refer to data services, we are referring to business intelligence, business analytics, and backup and disaster recovery. These three play varying roles for a business, but can, if leveraged correctly, really bring a lot of value. Let’s look at them individually.
For the business that wants to use big data initiatives, protecting that data has to be a priority. In fact, protecting your data should be no matter how you choose to use data. The backup and disaster recovery (BDR) platform works to back up assigned data regularly to ensure that if there is a need for recovery--from a disaster, a malware attack, or human error--that the files that are recovered are relatively up to date.
The BDR is a network-attached device that takes incremental backups of your data and pushes a copy to a secure offsite data center. This ensures that if your hardware were to fail or your business was inundated with a disaster of some kind, that you still have the data available for recovery. The good news is that a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery system is a core part of a managed IT services agreement, but still can be purchased outright.
Using data to maintain, optimize and streamline a business’ operations is called business intelligence (BI). BI supports data-centric decision making. With the plan that it will increase overall productivity and improve efficiency, BI is delivered through reports and data visualization. By organizing data into summaries in order to decipher how different areas of a business are functioning, BI gives answers to how the business is functioning, and has functioned.
BI also can give an analysis of the financial and operational statistics that work to identify weak and strong areas of a business. This can help a business’ decision makers make better-informed decisions backed up by empirical data that is easy to decipher. With the ability to see a whole business, and decipher how the current operations can be more effective, decision makers can set goals and strategy.
A business analytics (BA) platform also collects and analyzes data and employs predictive analysis with the core aim of addressing a business’ weak points, but that is the only similarities it has with BI. BA software is used to analyze historical and current data to identify the trends in a business.
While BI and BA seem relatively similar on the surface--both feature visual representations as well as customizable queries--the main difference is that BI is crunching data that will help businesses structure operations to meet the demands of today, while BA has a clear intention of helping analysts plan for the future.
If you would like to learn more about using your data to improve your business, while also protecting that data, call the IT professionals at MERIT Solutions today at (757) 420-5150.