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3 Technology Solutions to Track Business Trends

This guest post is by Lawrence Feldman. Lawrence manages a small tech company and works as a freelancer when he’s not taking MBA classes.

Top-tier managers and accountants love metrics. Quantitative measures are the be-all and end-all for number crunches in the business world. Goal-setting and company objectives hinge on increasing or decreasing numbers. Airlines want to sell 100 percent of their seats on every flight, hotel owners look for full occupancy with the highest rack rate booking averages, and retail outlets invest millions of dollars every year to achieve a 1 percent increaseTracking Trends in market share.

While numbers have a significant role in responsible fiscal management practices, tracking trends relies on more value-oriented elements. For example, it is difficult to translate satisfaction into a real, tangible number that can be measured and overcome. Managers should avoid falling into the single-loop learning trap, which prevents them from responding to market changes swiftly. Focusing on long-range goals and failing to notice current trends in the marketplace can be a setback.

How does a company use metrics and tracking methods effectively? Technology — in conjunction with short-term periodic review processes — identifies market shifts that influence goal-setting and avoids that single-loop mindset. Here’s how:

Data Intelligence & Daily Reporting

 

Gathering information through a variety of channels is instrumental to compile relevant data. Customer service software tracks behavior and demographic information via on-site, off-site and third-party collection points. Understanding customers drives traffic to a business website and personalizes customer experiences. For example, services by live chat by LivePerson, a business-to-customer engagement company, can improve customer conversions by 20 percent with live chat software solutions and analytics. Companies can also acquire real-time information to guide daily decisions by targeting strategies that incorporate industry-specific data and online intelligence from services such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Customer Relationship Managers (CRM)

Proponents of incorporating CRM software into mid-sized businesses spotlight ease of flexibility. Sales teams gain valuable purchasing data about individual customers and can link to accounts from social networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, for personalized details and interactions. Merging social networking and email campaigns doesn’t require add-ons or third-party apps for full integration. Information gathered leads to higher sales volumes and shorter sales cycles. Centralized data storage makes daily, weekly or monthly report generation flexible for sales managers and team players.

Inventory Management Software

Clothing retailers rely on software management systems to monitor trends in fashion, for example. Maintaining appropriate inventory levels can be a problem for retail businesses though. Store planning software provides retail merchants options that ensure an agile response to new styles and customer buying trends. Metrics can help evaluate customer behavior and provide data about trends. While establishing objectives and achieving goals, business can’t afford to not effectively respond to sudden market changes. Intrinsic values are qualitative, not quantitative, and essential to every analytics program.

What are your favorite technology applications to track trends in your business? Share them in the comments.

Top Cloud Storage and Backup Trends for 2013

Today’s guest post is by Jessica Reich. Jessica is a freelance writer from Minneapolis

Cloud ComputingTo say that the cloud computing industry is experiencing rapid growth is the understatement of the century. What started with a three-model approach—Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)—now features several different cloud computing models over a wide range of IT disciplines. Back in 2010 the cloud computing industry was worth roughly $40 billion. By 2020, according to a recent study by Forrester Research, the cloud computing industry is expected to grow to over $240 billion.

Within the cloud computing space, cloud storage and backup services are among the most popular. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of cloud storage and backup services are built on the SaaS model, which the Forrester study cites as the cloud computing model with the most growth potential.

Top Three Cloud Storage & Backup Trends in 2013

 

  • More cloud-based subscription models: On the enterprise level, most companies are still in the early adoption phase. These companies, especially within its IT departments, are skeptical of cloud services and the benefits they offer. 2013 will see an increase of cloud-based subscription models — specifically from storage and backup providers — for enterprise-level organization all over the globe.
  • Disaster recovery in the cloud: According to Henrik Rosendahl, Senior Vice President of Cloud Solutions at Quantum, disaster recovery in the cloud is increasingly becoming a viable best practice for the enterprise. Cloud-based disaster recovery is among the easiest and most affordable ways to offload disaster recovery plans without purchasing physical offsite servers.
  • Cloud-based de-dupe and data protection: A big piece of the new era of cloud backup will mean de-duplicating mission/business-critical data before it is sent to a cloud service. This offers a new cost-effective level of data protection for enterprise-class organizations and small businesses alike. In fact, cloud-based backup providers that aren’t optimized for de-duplication will find it harder to compete in the cloud storage space.

 

Cloud Storage & Backup Benefits

 

  • Reduced Costs: In the old days when a company managed data in-house, there were hosts of major expenses related to purchasing networking equipment and servers. Beyond that, the IT department was traditionally tasked with managing, updating and servicing this equipment. All of that responsibility and cost is off loaded to the cloud provider. According to CloudStorageFinder.com, some companies charge more for its cloud backup service, but some rank high in value for money, making costs more important.
  • Flexibility: The bulk of these cloud storage and backup services are offered on a pay-as-you-go, subscription basis. This frees you up from being locked into a relationship with a cloud vendor, and you only pay for what you use.
  • Boosted Productivity: Cloud storage and backup gives you access to a wide range of productivity tools that increase your ability to be productive. Off loading the backup and storage process to a third-party provider frees you up to focus on business-specific processes.

 

 

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