Category Archives: Observations & Answers

Why do companies lack data analysis skills?

The majority of businesses have woken up to the importance of big data. Companies collect massive amounts of information on their consumers and potential consumers and this raw data is invaluable. Not only can this information be used to ascertain the current climate surrounding the company but it can actually be used to predict future patterns. This may sound like the perfect opportunity for businesses to stay ahead of the curve however many organizations are failing to utilise big data in any significant way- for a number of different reasons.

Before we get into the issues of expertise and resources, we need to point out that some companies simply refuse to utilise big data to its fullest potential. Many business owners cite the same reservations when it comes to big data, namely accuracy, expense and the actual usefulness of the data itself. For example, companies are worried that the data they do collect will not be completely valid and even if they do want to use it, it will be too expensive to go through the process of collecting, storing and analyzing the data.

Although these issues are still held by many business owners, it does seem like the majority of companies are waking up to the wealth of benefits that big data have to offer. Unfortunately, even when companies want to embrace the full potential of big data, they are hitting a wall when it comes to data analysis, due to a lack of skills within the industry.

A study by Forbes Insights and Dunn & Bradstreet found that even when companies are using big data, they aren’t adopting complex analytics. The study showed that 23% of companies are still using a spreadsheet as their main tool for data analysis, 17% only use basic dashboards and 19% use basic data models and regression. What this shows is that there is a severe lack of expertise when it comes to data analysis and many businesses are losing out on the potential benefits.

The main problem is that more and more data is being collected but the amount of data analysists available to process this data isn’t increasing- therefore there is a shortage of talent. In fact, 40% of companies have admitted that they find it difficult to find and retain data analytics talent.

We have seen an increase in higher education offering courses that will train people within this area, however it isn’t producing enough professionals to match the massive demand.

The use of data is only going to increase in the future, therefore this problem isn’t going away. It also seems like many companies are taking more of a holistic approach towards data analysis. Instead of expecting everything to be done within the IT department, some businesses want all of their employees to have at least some knowledge within this area. This is actually a very forward-thinking idea as it’s likely that in the near future, data analysis and projection is going to be much more common in every office.

So, what can businesses do in order to combat the lack of talent? The short answer is to invest in the future. As well as recruiting from universities and colleges, they also need to make the career path attractive and this can be achieved through internships, benefits and student projects. It’s obvious that the current infrastructure isn’t large enough to produce the number of analysists required by the industries, therefore business owners should look into creating their own infrastructure. This mean supporting talent throughout the entire process, from their first day as a student, all the way up to their position in the workplace.

The corporate world is changing dramatically and whilst some jobs are falling by the wayside, other careers are popping up to take their place. It’s becoming more and more obvious that data analysis is position that is only going to become more important in the future and now is the time to lay down the foundations.

Automation – The Death of the Salesman?

Automation has completely transformed the workplace. As technology advances, jobs that would normally have been completed by humans are becoming obsolete. Whilst we have become accustomed to this happening with manual based work such as factory operations or farming, this is changing. Automation is no longer confined to manual labour, it’s now making its way in to office environments and many people are concerned that the next profession to take a hit will be sales.

One of the main reasons why sales is under threat from automation is due to the fact that many tasks that would have traditionally been carried out by people are now completed by technology.  Software has become so sophisticated that it can now take on many aspects of marketing and sales. To compound the issue, computers can carry out these tasks faster, more efficiently and with less errors. Therefore, just like with every other example of the automation in the workplace- it’s completely understandable why business owners would make the change, it improves operations and it’s cheaper.

So what aspect of sales is actually moving towards automation? Typically, it’s the processes leading up to the sale which are most likely to become automated. In fact, research has shown that 70% of the buying process is completed before a customer has even spoken to a real person. This is a really important statistic as it shows that the majority of sales is happening without human interaction. The aspects of sales that this represents is processes such as contacting prospective customers, lead generation, lead enrichment, marketing etc.

Before we completely right off a career in sales, it’s important to point out that there is still a place for human workers within this sector. Computers and software programmes excel in many areas but they will never be able to compensate for a real human interaction. The business world is clearly becoming much faster, intelligent and data-driven but we are losing the human touch. It‘s very easy for a company to have an over reliance on technology and  risk appearing cold, aloof and money hungry. This is why sales isn’t currently and probably never will be completely automated.

This doesn’t mean that those who work in the industry are off the hook. The only way to get ahead of the curve and stop your job from being delegated to a machine is to embrace automation. Many of the processes that are becoming automated are tasks such as sending large volumes of emails, call logging, dialing numbers, scheduling appointments and matching leads with reps. These are all time consuming and monotonous tasks which is why they are being automated. Therefore, sales reps should look at this as a benefit- allowing them to focus on areas in which they excel. For example, actually talking with customers, creating relationships and offering something that machines can’t.

It’s worth noting that some within the industry consider it to be a golden age for those within sales and its precisely because of processes becoming automated. Many of these tasks are based around contacting potential leads, whether it’s calling, leaving voicemails or emailing and there is now a plethora of software-based solutions that can take over, leaving sales reps with much more time to play with. We also need to talk about data and the effect that it is having on the industry. The majority of businesses are recognising that big data is the future and this is also relevant within sales. Processes such as matching reps with leads, assigning the best content and creating tailored presentations are all moving towards automation thanks to software which collects, analyses and then uses data so that it can make intelligent, well-informed decisions

Similar to the way in which workers in other industries have adapted to the encroachment of technology, salespeople need to stop fighting it and instead embrace it. Take advantage of the benefits that technology offer but showcase to employers that you offer something that is irreplaceable.

Facebook or Google – Which is best for Advertising?

 

Online advertising has grown exponentially in recent years- which is no surprise considering we are spending more time online than ever before. When it comes to choosing a specific advertising platform, many companies opt for one of the two biggest- either Facebook or Google. Both of these platforms have a massive reach- hosting billions of users, all of whom are potential customers.

Although both Facebook and Google AdWords can provide exceptional results when it comes to advertising, it’s worth noting that they both offer different experiences. Therefore, it’s worth balancing the pros and cons of both in order to ascertain which platform is best suited to your company and its specific requirements.

Google AdWords

Google is the world’s biggest search engine and AdWords is by the far the most popular platform for online advertising. One of the main advantages of utilising Google is that it can connect businesses with a massive audience- using both their search engine (keywords) and their display network (banner ads), which are two of the main techniques.

The fact that there are different ways to advertise on Google means that there are options to suit everybody. Keyword advertising and converting clicks to sales is better suited to those who want to see their numbers rise, whereas banner advertisement is more of a broad, qualitative approach that is better suited to companies who want to get their brand identity in to the mainstream. Of course, you also have access to other formats such as video advertisements and Google’s shopping search results.

The type of product which is being marketed is important when deciding between Facebook and Google. For example, niche or specialised products are much better suited to Google because Facebook advertising relies on customer information and therefore these types of products will only reach a small audience. The same goes for the cost of the products and services which are being sold. Products with a high price perform better on Google because Facebook lends itself to impulse buying and therefore cheaper products.

The major downside to Google advertising is that it can be expensive and therefore out of reach for small and medium sized companies. Yes, you are likely to see a return on your investment but you need to have the funds to invest in the first place and therefore larger, more secure businesses are likely to see better results from Google. It’s also worth noting that there is the potential of ads failing to do well, leading to a loss of money- therefore there is risk involved.

Facebook

Facebook advertising may not have been around as long as Google but it’s definitely gaining in popularity.

Obviously, as with Google, Facebook benefits from connecting a vast amount of people- in fact it’s the most popular social network by far with 2 billion monthly active users. However, it’s not just the amount of people that is important but also the way they interact with the network. Facebook users reveal a wealth information about themselves, all of which is incredibly valuable for advertisers. Whereas Google will let users find the adverts through keyword searches, Facebook actually delivers ads according to user profiles, interests, demographic etc. Therefore, Facebook is particularly good at targeting products at the most suitable consumers.

How Mobile Friendly is your Business?

Mobile has become a major fixture within the business world with more customers choosing to use their mobile devices over more traditional methods. In fact, statistics show that a whopping 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices and this number is only going to grow in the future. Therefore, it has never been more important that businesses ensure they are mobile friendly if they want to succeed in the current corporate landscape.

However, there is a misconception that many business owners have that this mobile trend is specific to B2C companies and not as important when it comes to B2B, but this just isn’t the case. The move to mobile is happening just as fast within B2B, in fact 50% of B2B queries are made on smartphones and research shows that this number is likely to rise to 70% by the year 2020. It may be that we expect a greater degree of mobile friendly interaction between businesses and customers but many interactions between companies are also happening through mobile devices.

A major factor in the rise of mobile in B2B is the impact of millennials on the workforce- obviously this new generation are tech savvy and rely much more on mobile platforms. However, interestingly, statistics have shown that age isn’t the only defining factor as baby-boomers are also conducting more and more business using their smartphones. Therefore, it seems as if the cultural and technological shift that is happening is bigger than the generational divide. A report by Salesforce which looked at over 7000 business buyers found that over 80% of millennials believe that their mobile device is essential to their work. Although the amount of Baby-Boomers who felt the same was lower (over 60%) it’s still the vast majority and signals a shift in thinking.

Mobile B2B sales are still relatively low but are continually rising and are likely to make up a significant percentage of revenue in the future. It’s also worth noting that sales figures are not the only measure of the impact of smartphones. The decision to purchase is often influenced by research conducted using smartphones and tablets and whilst the actual purchase isn’t completed using these devices- they are still playing a vital role in the overall process.

The idea of the pre-purchase activity which eventually leads to a sale is often overlooked but it can be vital. Research has found that 70% of executives will use their phone to research a product or service after receiving an offer. Furthermore, 68% of respondents actually use their mobile phones to look at news which is related to their field. What these statistics show is that even if business owners aren’t actually making purchases on a mobile platform- they are being influenced by phones and tablets.

Taking all of this in to account- it’s obviously beneficial to have a website that is mobile-friendly because it allows potential customers to not only research products and services but also encourages them to make the actual sale. Interestingly, a mobile friendly website can have a significant effect on brand loyalty. 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to repeat business with a company that provides a good mobile experience- compared with only 50% of buyers who said they would repeat business with a company that offered a poor mobile experience. Clearly, this is an aspect of the B2B landscape that is important to a lot of buyers.

The interaction between businesses is changing, in fact it seems to be becoming much more like a conventional business to customer relationship. Ensuring that the process is as easy and satisfactory as possible is integral and this includes constructing a website that is tailored to desktop and mobile platforms.