Business Intelligence: Leading the Way to New Digital Opportunities

Business Intelligence, Ideas, Business

Business Intelligence: Leading the Way to New Digital Opportunities
By Kym Gordon Moore

How can you make the right and most efficient decision when identifying better solutions to improve on and apply to the overall performance of your organization? Business Intelligence tools make managing, gathering and analyzing important raw data or nebulous data less difficult and quicker. Data mining, collecting, and processing analytics, queries, and reporting are all elements related to the discipline of business intelligence (BI). These tools can help you keep track of organizational and individual activities, assist end-users in getting the right data, recall business decisions or track the progress of projects more efficiently than previously applied data.

Ever changing marketing trends and targeting customers through their behavior and traffic patterns is the driving force for integrating business intelligence tools that provide greater insights than the way we previously used manual marketing forecasts. Actionable information that business managers and corporate executives can access in order to make informed business decisions can affect the organization’s overall performance and growth.

Yet how do you determine what is the best software to apply to your organizational needs? If you’re searching for a buyer’s guide for software services based on their merits, you can find some transparent and reputable review sites to help you uncover the best software tools for cloud computing, forecasting, benchmarking, mobile, predictive analytics, big data, and visualization.

Dashboard software creates data visualizations (graphs, charts, metrics) that monitor client interactions, revenue, reports, and scorecards. Although dashboard software monitors client reactions, customer relationship management (CRM) and BI Tools are not to be confused. CRM is a database that stores customer sales history and interactions, which you could segment for greater productivity and profitability. Business intelligence tools combine software for customer acquisition and retention. Together, the two can impact real-world numbers through testing and experimenting.

Business Intelligence technologies and analytic tools give more accurate reports while saving time and money. With the capability to analyze historical data and forecast a holistic view of their market, organizations need to understand analytics in order to make their company compete efficiently while understanding big data in real-time to deliver an optimal customer experience.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?Business-Intelligence:-Leading-the-Way-to-New-Digital-Opportunities&id=9754971

3 Fundamental Areas of Ecommerce You Should Never Skimp on

Business, Ecommerce, Entrepreneur
Image Credit: Shutterstock

PRATIK DHOLAKIYA
CONTRIBUTOR
Co-Founder of E2M

The writing has been on the wall for years now: Retail is moving, en masse, to the internet. Ecommerce sales in the United States have been increasing steadily over the past decade and are predicted to top $4 trillion by 2020.

Related: Ecommerce Basics: 10 Questions to Ask When Creating an Online Store

One of the harsh realities of this widespread shift in consumer behavior is that the very concept of competition has changed. Retailers are no longer just competing with stores near their geographic location. They are going up against everyone else throughout their industry.

What’s more: In the incredibly fast-paced nature of online browsing, potential customers are quick to jump to conclusions. With so many options for them to choose from, the first impressions that you, as retailer, give them, are everything. Oftentimes, it’s these (seemingly) small elements that play a huge factor in people’s purchasing decisions.

With this in mind, there are several crucial components which you must invest heavily in, to keep a competitive edge. Here are three of the big ones.

Visual design

All kinds of studies have been conducted on how quickly the human brain processes images. While the conclusions vary, one common one says that people process visual effects much faster than text. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to budget for high-resolution images.

In ecommerce, after all, presentation is everything. Regardless of where you place photos on your site, they will inevitably be the points to which people’s eyes gravitate. Right off the bat, these pictures should be captivating and provide an introduction to what your brand is all about.

Even more, those photos should clarify the visual hierarchy of your content, to persuade visitors to take further action; photos should never just be decoration. In addition to capturing attention, these images should help advance the navigation and flow of your ecommerce site to get consumers on the path to conversion.

If you’re not a professional photographer, there are plenty of resources online providing you high-quality images. You can browse the vast libraries of royalty-free stock photos to find visual effects that fit your exact needs.

Store functionality

Your home page is more than just the first impression of your online business. It is the face of your brand and the central hub for all of your operations. Going the cheap route here can quickly render the rest of your efforts pointless.

Related: Shopping Cart Throw-down: Which Ecommerce Platform Reigns Supreme?

Luckily, we live in a time when you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg to have a fully functional ecommerce homepage. DIY ecommerce platforms like Shopify will supply the critical functionality you need — such as a shopping cart, inventory tracking, payment records and hosting — while providing a mobile-friendly or multi-device storefront

For more complex or larger stores, bringing in a few expert developers may be necessary. And this can benefit the bottom line. “Online shopping behavior is truly unpredictable. It’s amazing how a minuscule tweak on an ecommerce homepage can result in a huge increase of sales,” says Tristan King, founder of Blackbelt Commerce.

Developers provide specialist services in the form of web development, UX consultancy and management for ecommerce sites built on Shopify. Such platform-specific specialization allows for the discovery of subtle changes that can help you grow sales to the next level.

Ultimately, the home page of any website should be designed in a way that encourages visitors to dive deeper into the store’s offerings — be they categories, products or the latest end-of-season sale. If you’re going to invest heavily in your online business, this is the place to do it.

Marketing copy

Ecommerce and content marketing go hand in hand, both on-site and off. Once you’ve wowed visitors with compelling images and assured them with reviews about reliable user experience, you’ve got to prioritize the written content that makes the sale. This is where you’ll truly provide value for your visitors.

By nature, the writing of marketing copy is a subjective art. However, there are many universal blunders that separate the good from the bad. On an ecommerce website, the need for topnotch writing is foremost, in terms of crafting product pages, blog posts, email blasts, information pages and checkout processes. In one way or another, all of this content factors into your sales strategy. The copy you use must be flawless, concise, informative and consistent.

If you’ve been in the game for a while, you probably know just how much content is needed for your ecommerce site. To get that content, owners, many times, must dedicate a team of writers to the task, or outsource it to locals in multiple countries when the product line happens to be international.

Regardless of content needs, the most important thing is that all of your content must reflect the brand persona you’ve worked so hard to define. Online shoppers are smart and critical beings. Even the smallest blemish in your copy can wreak havoc on your credibility.

In sum, brick-and-mortar businesses have been around for centuries. Ecommerce, on the other hand, is so new that there isn’t yet a specific playbook to ensure a fruitful outcome. There may never be; and even the savviest owners may be puzzled by their online sales results.

Related: The ABCs of Writing Great Marketing Copy

Yet, while there are no guarantees with ecommerce, it’s been proven time and time again that investing the proper resources into the above three areas can do wonders to set you up for success. You should get started doing that today.

Article source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/298375

 

Open Innovation is Alive and Well in the Pet Industry

Pets, Innovation, Business
Image Source: Getty Images

By Stephen Key
Co-founder, InventRight      

 

It is an incredible time to be a product developer. Like solving problems? Enjoy being creative? Today, you do not have to start a business to launch an idea into the market. You can go the licensing route and begin receiving passive income for your creativity instead. That’s the beauty of open innovation, the increasingly widespread practice of companies looking outside their own walls for the best new product ideas. By licensing your idea to a company that has existing distribution and relationships with retailers, you can get to market fast. In that way, as a business model, licensing simply cannot be beat. Innovative companies recognize this — even ones with a long and storied history of research and development like GE.

The pet industry is particularly ripe for open innovation and licensing. According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet today. That’s a lot! Last year, Americans spent a record $66.75 billion on their beloved companions. During the recession, the industry barely took a hit. Thanks to the Internet, dogs and cats are more popular than ever. And there’s the well-documented trend occurring worldwide of young people increasingly referring to and treating their pets like surrogate children. There’s a huge opportunity here for people who are creative.

Which is why I traveled to the annual pet trade show SuperZoo in Las Vegas earlier this week to ask companies explicitly: What do you need from us? After licensing many of my own ideas for products, I know what open innovation looks like in practice. But since I’ve made it my mission to help other people license their ideas, I’m committed to going one step further. The show is not as large as the Global Pet Expo in Florida, but it was very well-attended, light-hearted, and a lot of fun. How could it not be, with dogs of different shapes, sizes, and colors running this way and that? Turns out, people who love their pets like to have a good time. The theme this year was “Better Together,” which spoke directly to the inclusive nature of the industry at large.

As is typical, some companies were receptive to open innovation and others weren’t. You can tell which are and which aren’t pretty easily. Companies whose products all share the same beautiful design aesthetic? Not a good fit. These companies aren’t really innovating. Their focus is on designing products that are extremely pretty to look at. Their in-house designers are tasked with creating the look and feel they want their brand to reflect. These companies do not look at outside submissions. They’re more likely to acquire a brand outright or bring in a designer they like to keep working with them.

But I also met CEOs like Tim Blurton of Hyper Pet LLC who embrace open innovation emphatically.

“We love inventors and people with ideas. And we love being able to work with them and take their ideas and make them marketable, so we both benefit,” Blurton said. “Bring us any ideas you’ve got! We’ll listen and see if we can work on them.”

For Dr. Steven Tsengas of OurPets, intellectual property is of paramount importance. His company has something like 170 patents to its name. Electronic pet toys are increasingly popular, he told me, as he pointed out several products of his that make use of Bluetooth technology.

For companies like Ethical Products Inc., which has been in business since 1952 and markets its products under the brand SPOT, working with inventors is a way of life. Ausra Dapkus, the vice-president of purchasing and product development who is in charge of working with product developers and inventors, described her role in the following way.

“I take their ideas and then communicate them to our factories overseas to bring those products to life,” she explained. “I try to translate their vision into something that can actually work in production, which can sometimes be a challenge… but somehow we always manage to work it out.”

At the Ethical Products booth, professional inventor Chuck Lamprey showed off one of his licensed products. (Full disclosure: I know Chuck because he was my student.) Since he began developing pet products seven years ago, Lamprey has since licensed about nine of his ideas, all of which are still selling on the market. At first, he told me he struggled to make a good first impression at trade shows because he’s shy. But in time, as his knowledge of the industry grew, he became much more comfortable approaching booths.

These days, he’s confident because he know he adds value. He walks up to companies he wants to invent for and says something along the lines of: “Hello, my name is Chuck. I have many products in the marketplace. If you have needs in a particular area, I would love to help you out.”

This year, several CEOs explicitly thanked him for stopping by and expressed how much they appreciated that he was paying attention to the industry and actually inventing for them.

“Repeat trade show attendance is very useful in that way. They get to know me and that I’m serious about this,” he explained. “What I want to do is add value. It’s not about me and it’s not even about the company. It’s about the consumer. What can I give to the industry?”

His attitude is spot on. You cannot merely submit your ideas for new products to as many companies as possible and hope for the best. Becoming a professional independent product developer is all about communication and the relationships you build. That’s why attending a trade show can be so effective. You’re able to introduce yourself face-to-face and shake hands.

But some of the companies I interviewed were frank with me. In principle, they loved the idea of open innovation. In practice, they were frustrated. They’d become wary of working with inventors because so many of them failed to do their homework. The ideas these companies had received didn’t take their brand into consideration whatsoever, so they had decided to stop looking at outside ideas altogether.

The benefits of open innovation are enormous, but sifting through submissions takes time. So does getting back to product developers about why their ideas aren’t a perfect fit, which is a crucial part of the process. When companies decide their limited resources are better spent elsewhere, we all lose out.

If you have an apple and the company you show your idea to is selling oranges, that’s not a good fit. Most likely they are not going to be interested. And in that case what you’re sending is basically spam.

There’s a balance to be struck. Licensing is very much a numbers game. You need to contact enough companies about your idea, not just the major one or two players. At the same time, firing your sell sheet off to every single company in an industry isn’t going to get you very far.

So please, check out the websites of each company on your list of potential licensees. What are they all about? Can you tailor your sell sheet to better fit the needs of their consumers in some way? (Sometimes this is as easily accomplished as using a different color.) Remember, there are actual people reviewing your submissions at these companies.

Many people were honest with me about the fact that selling pet products has fundamentally changed. Between Amazon and other online retailers, brick and mortar sales are simply not as important. Savvy Internet retailers like the startup Chewy.com, which was recently acquired by PetSmart, offer better customer service. Before you show your idea to a company, investigate how it sells its products. If you don’t understand the retail landscape, you’re at a disadvantage.

Some companies were very clear with me about letting inventors know they could already be working on something similar, which is why they won’t sign a non-disclosure agreement right away. That’s perfectly reasonable.

Like always, I kept my eyes out for simple products, which are my favorite. I was not disappointed. Catit’s Flower Fountain water bowl is the best-selling cat accessory toy on Amazon, I was told. It’s a compact water fountain with a flower design on top that enables you to adjust the flow of water to your cat’s liking. Simple, very cute, and with smart packaging to boot: By cutting out a few pieces, the shipping box is transformed into a toy. If you own a cat, you know how much they adore playing with boxes.

This is an exciting industry to invent for, truly. Who doesn’t love pets? Open innovation in the pet industry is a win for all of us.

Article source: https://www.inc.com/stephen-key/open-innovation-is-alive-and-well-in-the-pet-indus.html

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
PUBLISHED ON: JUL 28, 2017

How to Become A 2018 World’s Most Innovative Company

innovation, fast company, business, tech
Image Source: FastCompany.com

 

Innovation is everywhere. So how do we cut through the clutter to name our annual Most Innovative Companies Top 50 and Top 10 industry lists?

Our team of dogged and dedicated reporters and editors spend months culling research on the world’s top companies. But this year—for the first time ever—you can submit your own organizationto become a 2018 Most Innovative Company.

Here’s how you can put together the best possible entry for our team of Most Innovative Companies editors. (And don’t forget to download our MIC special edition and how-to guide here).

  1. Identify Your Innovation Bucket
    Fast Company takes an expansive view of what constitutes innovation: Product innovation: We’re happy to celebrate a successful new entrant in the market that serves a previously unmet need, such as new lifesaving drugs from Gilead Sciences or Casper’s mattresses and bedding. Creative innovation: We gave the nod to the ad agency 72andSunny for breaking through the clutter with great work in a variety of media for clients ranging from Starbucks to Activision to Google. Sometimes, of course, an innovation hits several of these notes or belongs in a category we haven’t mentioned here. Business-model innovation: Warby Parker introduced try-before-you-buy to eyewear and has led the way in marrying real-world retail with e-commerce.
  2. Focus On A Project
    Tell us about a particular initiative. It’s not enough merely to state that your product or strategy is innovative. The key is to isolate the novelty in what you’re doing and delineate how and why it’s different from what’s come before.
  3. Be Concise, Yet Descriptive
    We are not accepting attachments of any kind, including presentation decks or visuals. The more detail you can provide in the space allotted, the greater the case can be made for your innovation. What makes you most excited when you think about what you’ve developed? Which of your features are your customers are buzzing about, either in communicating back to you or among themselves?
  4.  Share Your Completed Work
    If you’re an architecture firm, finished buildings will garner more attention than those in the planning stage. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, an FDA-approved drug matters more than a promising clinical trial. In-progress ideas will certainly be considered, but completing the work counts.
  5. Choose Your Strategic Weapon
    Technology is transforming every aspect of our world. How are you using it to get a leg up on competitors? Or perhaps good design is…Continue reading

Article source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40440722/how-to-become-a-2018-worlds-most-innovative-company