SMEs should be using big data to gain business intelligence. A local example of a startup that’s helping farmers do just that is Aerobotics, a Cape Town-based aerial data-analytics company, which uses data to provide farmers with a bird’s eye view of their orchards, with the aim of optimising crop yields and reducing costs.
Aerobotics applies machine learning to multi-spectral images to provide insight and competitive advantage to farmers, including predictive information on crop health.
The easiest place is to start with your sales strategies – targeting the right customer for the right product
Both private and public institutions need to realise that using data to improve business efficiencies is fast becoming the new mainstream, says Yudhvir Seetharam, head of Analytics for FNB Business.
Whoever runs a business should be making most decisions based on data
“Just as new competitors appear on the scene, so too can competitors use data to optimise or disrupt the market. The returns of a data-driven strategy are also not necessarily immediate – those expectations need to be managed so that they pay off in the long term (if investing in infrastructure) but can be realised in the short term if “quick” questions can be answered via data.”
Seetharam answers all your frequently asked questions (FAQs) about data analytics.
What is data analytics?
In short, it is the application of techniques from maths, statistics and computer science to find quantifiable answers to business problems. Analytics enhances decision making by providing numbers to either back the decision or change the outcome.
Analytics will help you optimise your business, and potentially disrupt the industry with new ideas or products
What are the benefits of using data analytics for your business?
All businesses are run from financial information. By businesses applying empirical techniques, they can find new ways to increase their income. For example, targeting the right customer or reduce expenses by optimising processes. Analytics will help you optimise your business, and potentially disrupt the industry with new ideas or products.
Who should be using it?
It can be used by all – whoever runs a business should be making most decisions based on data. There are companies as well as software providers that offer basic services for each function of your business (e.g. marketing, operations, risk).
By having stats on your business and industry, you are able to foresee any challenges or opportunities
What misconceptions do small business owners have around data analytics?
– It is not for me – all businesses regardless of industry or size can benefit from analytics.
– It is too expensive – some free software are great starting blocks for optimising your marketing or sales strategies.
– It is too complicated – as a business owner, numbers are or should be part of your arsenal.
Where should business owners start in terms of making use of data analytics?
The easiest place is to start with your sales strategies – targeting the right customer for the right product. Secondly, you can monitor operational efficiencies to detect any gaps.
What tools and technologies can business owners use to analyse their data?
Depending on the area you wish to use these techniques, there are a variety of options available. Tools for reporting are both freely available and paid-for software. Tools for analytics are normally more expensive, but there are many free ones available online (to solve particular problems).
How will data analytics impact business in the future?
As we are becoming more digitalised, data is becoming more freely available for analysis. Businesses need to think of how they can scale up and optimise operations digitally, while still ensuring a great customer experience. If your target market is digitally savvy, you would need to question whether a “face-to-face” approach would work for them.