Archive for Grudzień, 2013

CMS: should stand for Customer Management System

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Many organisations in South Africa are still using legacy content management systems (CMSs) to run their digital properties, reasoning that the complexity and risk of migrating to a new platform outweighs the potential benefits. Often, they’ll take one look at the daunting challenge of moving their content onto a new system, and decide that they’ll rather stay where they are.

It’s only when they start to see sales revenues and conversion opportunities start to leak that they take action. By then, they’ve lost out on a wealth of opportunities to drive cost efficiencies and grow profitability, and find themselves scrambling to catch up with competitors who are using content as a marketing tool in ever more sophisticated ways.

Legacy CMS platforms come with a number of drawbacks. They’re often expensive to support, difficult to use, and extremely inflexible – factors that all limit the ways marketers can use content to attract and retain customers. Usually, marketers have to rely on separate tools to manage content across different channels, such as email, Web, mobile and social.

Worst of all, older platforms not easily integrated with the wealth of tools and systems marketers can use to gather and analyse data about their clients. That makes it hard to automate the process of matching relevant content to customers based on information such as demographics and behavioural data.

Given these drawbacks, it is time for marketers to start looking at platforms that allow them to deliver rich, personalised experiences to consumers across channels and devices, while providing the marketing department a unified view of the customer. Such platforms take a lot of the pain out of content management.

For example, they allow marketers to serve content for multiple channels from a single point. They can allow for automation and execution of campaigns across digital channels (Web, email, social, mobile) as well as traditional channels (call centre, direct mail, point of sale) in a uniform and consistent manner.

The operation cost-savings and efficiencies can start flowing through to engagement and conversion, almost immediately. Whether the user is accessing the content from a smartphone browser, an email in response to a phone call, or whether the user is browsing a landing page on a PC, the content can be resized, formatted and packaged automatically.

What’s more, modern CMS platforms can draw on a wealth of customer data to personalise content to each user using a set of business rules. The result is that companies can improve performance of their content marketing and campaigns by performing robust audience segmentation and delivering marketing messages across channels.

The business case for relooking a CMS is strong if you’re still using an older system that doesn’t allow you to tap into your customer data and manage cross-channel campaigns in an efficient manner. As CMS platforms are integrated more tightly with other tools – including analytics, social media, and CRM platforms – they become ever more powerful.

The ultimate goal is to be able to engage with customers in real-time, giving them the content and messaging that is right for their needs at a given moment in time. Content supports every step of the customer journey, delivering interactions that increase sales and securing customer loyalty at each point of their journey.

 

Do you have an effective mobile strategy?

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

How does mobility impact your business asks PBT Group

According to recent research conducted by Nielsen¹, more Africans have access to mobile phones than they do clean water. In fact, more South African’s use mobile phones than listen to the radio or use a personal computer.

Says Gerhard Botha, CTO of PBT Group, “These research stats are phenomenal and certainly prove the impact that mobility is having. Today mobile is changing the way people communicate and how individuals interact with each other. In fact, the Nielsen report clearly indicates that mobility is becoming more coveted than the necessity of an individual’s basic needs. However, further to this, is the reality that today mobility is also impacting the business environment – where it is changing the way organisations assimilate and disseminate critical information.”

It has been forecasted² that worldwide shipments of smartphones will reach 480 million by 2016, and it has been suggested that 65% will be used in Bring You Own Device (BYOD) environments. Continues Botha; “This expected increase could be due to the immense benefits that BYOD strategies bring to the business environment. Using mobile devices can save time and money as well as allows for key decisions to be made with a quicker turn-around time – due to information being shared via such devices in real- time.”

Despite this, however, PBT Group has noticed that many companies in South Africa have not embraced mobility into their business strategy as of yet. Continues Botha; “The reason for a slower uptake locally with regards to the use of mobile devices in an organisation is partly two-fold. There are the socio-economic reasons that include a lack of education around the benefits mobility brings to a business, as well as some business owners not seeing the need for a mobile device strategy or being too afraid to invest in such a business move.”

It has been reported that 75%³ of companies in South Africa actually view the BYOD environment as a growing security threat. Besides this, according to PBT Group there are other aspects that should to be considered when looking at whether a mobility strategy will benefit an organisation.

“Although there are some considerable benefits to mobile devices, which include always on and availability, permanent connectivity, portability and with that productivity, there are also the noticeable downsides. These include that employees find it hard to switch off and tend to increase productive and available hour’s way beyond what was the case prior to mobile technology,” says Botha.

“While the immediate reaction of employers to mobile technology is positive, since mobility has the potential to increase their overall productivity, many studies⁴ have shown that prolonged working hours and added stress decreases productivity in the long-term.”

Continues Botha; “Considering this, it is becoming more apparent that employees, to some degree, are starting to resent the constant connectivity that mobility offers them and as a result feel overwhelmed by the constant interruption of mobile devices. In fact, this is very common in Germany⁴, where employees are pushing legislations to limit employer’s access to workers after hours. Such legislation, however, could end up affecting a company’s competitive advantage.”

Concludes Botha; “The fact is that mobility is a positive trend and can benefit an organisation. Yet, it is evident from the research and the lack of implementation by local businesses today, that developing a mobile strategy for an organisation is something that needs careful consideration, guidelines and various policies in place for it to be effective – not only from an employee productivity point of view but also from a security one.”

“Mobility is a trend that will persist and one that must be managed effectively if organisations are going to get it right and reap the ample business opportunities it provides.”

¹ Looking to the future of telecommunications in South Africa
http://www.sablog.kpmg.co.za/2013/08/looking-to-the-future-of-telecommunications-in-south-africa/

²Ten stats that show its time to prepare for BYOD
http://www.securedgenetworks.com/secure-edge-networks-blog/bid/94764/10-Stats-that-Show-it-s-Time-to-Prepare-for-BYOD

³ http://pressoffice.mg.co.za/kasperskylab/PressRelease.php?StoryID=243031

⁴Out of hours working banned by German labour ministry – The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/10276815/Out-of-hours-working-banned-by-German-labour-ministry.html

Green Apple IT appoints new field engineer to enhance customer service and expand reach

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

IT specialist, Green Apple IT, has announced the appointment of Richard Osmond as a Field Engineer. Osmond will be assisting Green Apple IT with providing comprehensive technical services and support to its customers, enhancing customer service and reducing downtime in the event of any issues.

“Our customer base has continued to grow steadily over the years, and in order to provide the highest levels of service and support, we required additional personnel in the field. Osmond brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as specialised skills which will enable us to expand our reach and provide additional value to our existing customers,” explains Dawie Bloomberg, Managing Director of Green Apple IT.

A trained medic and fireman with six years of experience in Emergency Management Services, Osmond began his IT career in 2009, providing services and support to a private school in Johannesburg. He is trained and certified on Dell products, and is also a certified Apple Mac technician, which enables Green Apple IT to offer additional services to customers using Mac devices. These certifications also deliver the benefit of reduced repair times on related products, as repairs can now be conducted in-house rather than being sent out, and will still comply with warranty procedures.

“My specific product training and knowledge enable me to quickly diagnose problems with these product sets, so Green Apple IT will be able to provide fast and efficient service. As an Emergency Services employee, I learnt discipline and the ability to work in high-stress environments, something that has assisted me in my role as IT support. I believe that every situation must be approached individually and that solutions need to be tailored to the customer, and I will bring these skills and approach to bear in my new position at Green Apple IT,” says Osmond.

With his experience in the SME market, a core focus of Green Apple IT, Osmond was the perfect fit for the position, ensuring that the company will continue to provide excellent support and personalised service as it grows. Osmond’s knowledge and expertise in the larger SME customers will also enable Green Apple IT to expand its customer base and deliver services and support to a wider market segment.

Ultra-compact portable storage with automatic and cloud backup – the WD My Passport Ultra

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Get lightning fast USB 3.0 performance and high capacity storage in a sleek, ultra-compact portable hard disk drive with the new My Passport Ultra 1 Terabyte (TB) and 2TB drives from distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC). Featuring WD SmartWare Pro automatic backup software for back up to the drive itself or to a Dropbox account, as well as password protection and hardware encryption, the My Passport Ultra drives are perfect for anyone who needs to take their digital content with them wherever they go.

“Storing and backing up your digital content has become a necessity, but many users also need the portability to take their storage with them and share content. WD’s My Passport Ultra drives are the ideal solution, with high capacities packaged in a durable and stylish enclosure, compatibility for PC and Mac, as well as WD SmartWare Pro backup software to ensure your photos, videos and information are always kept safe,” says Farhad Alli, WD Product Specialist at DCC.

With WD SmartWare Pro automatic backup software, you can choose when and where you back up your files, and schedule backups to suit your needs. Automatic, continuous backup will back up files as they are added, changed or saved to ensure you never lose those important documents, and the My Passport Ultra drives integrate with your Dropbox account to create an additional backup in the cloud for added peace of mind.

The My Passport Ultra drives offer USB 3.0 connectivity, transferring and accessing files up to three times faster than USB 2.0 without the need for external power sources, as well as USB 2.0 compatibility for older machines. The drives can be formatted for Mac as well as PC, and work seamlessly with Windows 8 thanks to the free WD Windows 8 app, which automatically displays and organises content for easy location of photos, videos and music.

For users who have concerns about security, the My Passport Ultra has several appealing features. WD Security allows you to set password protection and hardware encryption for your drive to help protect your files from unauthorised use or access. In addition, the WD Drive Utilities tool lets you register your drive, set drive timer, run diagnostics and more.

“The My Passport Ultra drives have been built to WD’s stringent quality controls to ensure durability, shock tolerance and long-term reliability. They are protected with a durable enclosure that is available in a range of colours including blue, black, red and white to suit any personality, and the drives also feature a three-year limited warranty, so users can be assured of the quality of their product,” Alli concludes.

The My Passport Ultra drives are now available from resellers and leading retailers for recommended retail prices of R1 099.00 (1TB) and R1 769.00 (2TB). All pricing is inclusive of VAT.

Xerox named a winner at BLI’s 2014 PRO Awards

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Buyers Laboratory (BLI), the leading independent authority in the document imaging industry, has named Xerox as a winner at its 2014 PRO Awards. The Xerox Colour J75 Press was acknowledged as a best-in-class production print device, specifically for outstanding colour in the light- to mid-volume production section.

Having generated tens of millions of impressions on production devices from the leading vendors over several years, BLI’s production tests reveal the attributes that distinguish the most outstanding performers in a challenging evaluation that measures productivity, image quality, media handling, ease of use and more.

Commenting on the accolade, Paul Haglich, marketing manager for production systems at Bytes Document Solutions, the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 countries in sub Saharan Africa, says the award is well-deserved. “The Xerox J75 is an advanced device with a small footprint, capable of handling heavyweight stock and great colour management. It enables users to transform time into profit, and to increase quality and consistency, and is becoming a popular choice in the South African market.”

“Easy to operate and offering excellent overall image quality, the Xerox Colour J75 Press is an outstanding choice in light- to mid-volume production spaces,” said George Mikolay, BLI senior product editor for A3/copier MFPs. “Highly productive when running heavier-weight media and when switching between A4 and A3 output, the Xerox Colour J75 Press is all about simplifying and automating tasks that typically require much more manual intervention with competitive devices.”

An example is the J75’s new SIQA (Simple Image Quality Adjustment) software, which automates front to back registration, as well as a number of other image quality adjustments. “As opposed to operators having to take measurements from printed sheets and then manually enter that information into a utility, the SIQA software does the majority of work for you, automatically calculating the profile for different paper types, weights and sizes, and allowing registration profiles to be created for each drawer individually,” said Mikolay.

The Xerox J75, which was tested with the EFI Fiery EX controller, also features a standard inline spectrophotometer that allows for automated colour calibration in order to maintain optimum and consistent output quality, which eliminates the need for the far more time-consuming method where operators have to manually scan target sheets via an external spectrophotometer. In addition to offering very good full colour output, the Xerox J75 produced better fonts and fine lines than competitive devices.

“Colour management, alignment and registration is totally accurate with the Xerox J75,” adds Haglich. “Production and large in-plant environments rely on Xerox for their most critical and demanding jobs and the J75 does not disappoint. Ensuring that jobs meet the most exacting standards, it provides big press features in an affordable and versatile device.”

Data quality is critical to the success of data-intensive IT projects

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Gary Allemann, MD at Master Data Management

In any typical IT project, most businesses focus solely on the functional design of the solution, to the exclusion of the data and how this data supports business processes. However, if data quality and integration is not planned for from the start, the data then has to be retrofitted into the solution, which often causes issues such as delays, additional budget, and a lack of functionality within the system itself. Any data intensive project should not only factor in data from the outset, it also offers an opportunity to improve data quality, ensuring that the project is delivered successfully, on time and on budget, and will continue to benefit the organisation in the future.

When implementing an IT project, there are three aspects, or streams, that are typically involved:

  • The functional components of the new system;
  • change management;
  • and data

Solutions such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Master Data Management (MDM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Business Intelligence (BI), data warehousing, data governance, and any data migration or consolidation, rely upon data to deliver on the expected benefits. Despite the critical nature of data, however, the data stream itself is often an afterthought in any IT project, or is excluded from the scope of the implementation. This leads to a number of issues, as data must be made to fit the solution after it has been implemented, often leading to extended delivery times, budget overruns and system problems.

To avoid these problems, it is vital to bring the data stream into play from the early stages of planning a solution. When implementing a new system, the majority of organisations focus their attention on the functional components, with some attention given to change management, training and behaviour modification, particularly on bigger projects with a large user base. However, the data stream tends to be overlooked, although it is equally critical to project success. Organisations need to plan for the data stream that will be required, and then integrate this from the beginning, to prevent the issues that leaving this to the last minute will cause.

It is also critical to have the involvement of business users throughout the process, as they are the ones who need to consume the data after a new solution has been implemented, and therefore have a greater knowledge of what information they need the system to deliver. Business users understand how information supports their ability to deliver on the business objectives of both the new solution and the organisation as a whole.

A typical project plan consists of several phases, with related business processes. To include the data stream in this plan, technical processes should be added at each stage. During project preparation, the current technology should be analysed, and data risks assessed. During the creation of a blueprint, source data should be analysed, a data baseline captured, and a data architecture designed. During the implementation phase, data quality processes should be created, including investigation, cleansing and standardisation, matching and linking. Data quality processes should also be integrated with applications and services during this phase. During rollout preparation, the data production system cutover plan should be defined, and the initial data cleanse and loading should take place. During the ‘go live’ transition, on-going data quality processing should be performed, and finally during project maintenance the technology should be tuned, and change requests and exceptions managed.

For project success, data should be planned and managed from the start, with a full project plan including what the data stream should look like, who needs to be involved at different levels and their roles. This will assist the project manager to put a project plan together that involves the right users at the right time, both business and technical, merging the functional and data streams and preventing data from becoming a problem later on.

For a detailed guide that identifies, for business team members and IT resources, the data quality-related tasks that should be incorporated into a project plan, download the Data Essentials white paper.

Westcon-Comztek signs agreement to distribute F5 in South Africa

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Local value-added distributor Westcon-Comztek is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement to distribute F5 application delivery and security solutions in South Africa.

The F5 solutions portfolio extends across the entire network and into the data centre. F5 is focused on enabling fast, secure and available application delivery to large enterprises and services providers.

“Leveraging our global distribution contract with Westcon, we have recently completed the relevant F5 sales enablement training and put the proper processes in place for Westcon-Comztek to effectively start providing value to our local channel. With the appointment of Westcon-Comztek we believe we can aggressively grow the regional reseller base around our technologies,” states Cary de Sousa, major account manager at F5 South Africa.

“We are also particularly excited about the prospect of working with the Westcon-Comztek security practice as they have an excellent reputation, a proven track record and a brand of value-added distribution that we believe will be extremely beneficial in further developing the local channel,” adds de Sousa

According to de Sousa, F5 has high standards for its distributors where training and channel development are concerned. The company’s solutions will be distributed out of the Westcon Security Solutions – Data business practice, a division that prides itself on its in-house technical skills, training capabilities and value-added services that are designed to assist resellers throughout the sales cycle.

F5 helps organisations seamlessly scale cloud, data centre, and software defined networking (SDN) deployments to successfully deliver applications to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

“The F5 suite of solutions will provide Westcon Security’s resellers with a critical link needed to help secure and deliver applications across the firewall and into the data centre. We are excited about the growth prospect this partnership holds, not only for us as Westcon-Comztek, but also for our resellers who are today increasingly working with larger application workloads being placed on the data centre as well as growth in virtualised architectures and cloud solutions,” ends Andrew Potgieter, business practice director at Westcon Security Solutions – Data.

Solving the identity management puzzle in real time

By admin, 4 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

Global populations are not only growing, they are concentrating in ever-larger urban conglomerations. These large concentrations of people create many challenges, many of which can only be solved with the help of new and flexible ways to establish identity securely.

“The obvious challenge is the need to police these large and heterogeneous populations effectively,” says Nick Perkins, divisional director of Bytes System Integration Identity Management. “Law enforcement agencies need a way to establish rapidly who a particular individual is, and what pertinent information their systems have on that person.”

Perkins notes that law enforcement is just one instance of the role that identity-management solutions play in today’s world. The need to provide security at public events, especially given the threat of terrorism, is also a real challenge for authorities.

“When you’re dealing with large groups of people, often perhaps in situations where there is little time available, portable and rugged devices that can offer a range of functionality are coming into their own,” he says. “Biometrics, photographs and cards are all inputs that can be used to identify an individual with a high degree of certainty, and thus the appropriate action can be chosen. The point is that the identification has to occur where the people are in real time.”

The need to establish identity securely is also a key requirement in a range of the services that citizens, employees and customers have come to expect. “Depending on context, people have different expectations and needs and, again, mobile and secure identity management solutions are vital,” explains Perkins.

For example, a citizen might need to be identified as the correct person to receive a government grant, or to vote—something that’s very much on people’s minds as elections tick closer.
In the health care sector, the ability to link a specific individual with database records has the potential to revolutionise the quality of care that patients receive, particularly in primary care or rural facilities where access to records could be problematic. In this instance, dedicated portable identity-management devices offer a way to provide patient care that is more consistent, and gives patients access to all the benefits to which they are entitled.

This type of identity management is obviously also vital when it comes to any financial transaction, Perkins adds.

“Identity management frequently doesn’t take place in a controlled environment—what many clients need is a solution that is both robust and mobile so it can be used out there, on the ground, where the people are,” Perkins says. “Having understood the requirements of this type of identity management, Bytes has gone out to find the right partners to provide the enabling technology. In this area, one of the best is the Pradotec range of rugged handheld devices.”

The Pradotec HRT 500, for example, has fingerprint and barcode scanners, as well as a contact and contactless card readers and a 5 megapixel camera. This means that it can handle all the main types of identity input, while 3.5G connectivity gives it powerful connectivity back to source databases.

Perhaps as important, it’s designed to withstand tough conditions and is both water and dust resistant. There’s also a developers’ toolkit to enable the creation of a customised solution that integrates with the organisation’s back-end systems and business processes.

“Identity management is one of the key enablers for so much of today’s emerging global society—but it’s not possible without the right device at the point of contact,” concludes Perkins.

A round up of the latest and greatest – the best WD products of 2013

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Farhad Alli, WD Product Specialist at DCC

The year 2013 has seen the release of many great products, and world-leading hard drive brand WD is no different. From more storage than ever and the world’s first 2.5-inch purpose-built Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives, to the thinnest portable drive on the market, and even the continuation of one of the best media players on the market, WD’s best and brightest list includes something for everyone. Three great WD products represent some of the best buys for 2013 and make festive season gifting easier than ever.

WD Red gets a makeover

In 2013 WD launched its largest capacity purpose-designed NAS drive ever – the 4TB WD Red drive. This internal drive allows home and small office users with a one- to five-drive bay NAS system to include up to 20 Terabytes (TB) of storage, and to use RAID arrays for mirroring and redundancy to protect critical data. The new WD Red launch also saw a world first – the first ever 2.5-inch NAS drive built specifically for small form factor and compact NAS enclosures, which is available in sizes of 750 Gigabytes (GB) and 1TB.

Powered by NASware 2.0 technology, which further improves drive reliability and protects customer data in the event of a power loss or disruption, WD Red is compatibility-tested with top NAS system manufacturers and optimised for performance and reduced power consumption. WD Red hard drives also feature 3D Active Balance Plus, an enhanced balance control technology, which significantly improves overall drive performance and reliability. WD Red drives feature a three-year limited warranty and dedicated 24×7 support through WD’s international Red helpline.

The slimmest on the market – My Passport Ultra

WD also released the slimmest external hard drive on the market this year, helping users to protect their memories, photos, videos and other important files with ease. The slim and compact portable drive My Passport Ultra combines additional layers of data protection with super-fast USB 3.0 connectivity, and four colour choices to offer mobile consumers the safest and easiest way to protect their digital content while travelling.

Available in 500GB, 1TB and new 2TB capacities, My Passport Ultra portable hard drives have built-in WD SmartWare Pro backup software with Dropbox integration, hardware encryption and password protection to safeguard against unauthorised drive access.

Still the best – WD TV Media Players

A media player from WD makes a great gift for anyone, even you. With two models to choose from: the WD Elements Play and the WD TV Live, there’s sure to be the perfect media player for any needs. Get instant entertainment on your TV with the WD Elements Play, which allows you to stream the latest movies, videos or music while using your Smartphone as your personal remote. Play any file type and enjoy your photos and videos using your USB or network drive with the WD TV Live.

A media player is a must-have device for any connected home, delivering a centralised place to bring all of your content from any connected device together, wherever it is stored, and stream it to any connected television in the home. From PCs and notebooks to tablets, Smartphones and even Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, you can easily share your digital content, including movies, music, games and photographs, in HD.

Gifts that keep on giving

In today’s digital world the ability to store, transport and share your content is invaluable, and keeping your precious memories safe demands only the best. With a range of storage, sharing and streaming options from WD to suit any needs, what could be more perfect than a gift that keeps on giving, from the world-leading hard drive and storage brand.

The WD Red 4TB drive is available from selected resellers for a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of R2 800.00 inclusive of VAT.

The My Passport Ultra is available from resellers and select retail outlets in capacities of 1TB and 2TB for a RRP of R1250.00 and R2 000.00 respectively. Prices are inclusive of VAT.
The WD Elements Play and the WD TV Live is available from resellers and select retail outlets for a RRP of R1 799.00 and R1 325.00 respectively. Prices are inclusive of VAT.

Leveraging predictive analytics to gain competitive advantage

By admin, 3 grudnia, 2013, No Comment

By Gavin Wienand, Senior Consultant at Cortell Corporate Performance Management

Organisations today are challenged by the need to understand their customers’ current and future requirements in a fast-paced and highly competitive environment, while still delivering goods and services in a profitable manner. Added to this is the need to continue to grow their business, increase sales, and improve profitability over time.

The ability to analyse data quickly and accurately lies at the heart of obtaining insights that will enable organisations to effectively address this challenge, but the sheer volume of data generated by organisations on a daily basis makes this a difficult task. Harnessing this mountain of information to predict customer behaviour and buying trends, anticipate customer needs and preferences, and even address operational and manufacturing issues is key. Predictive analytics effectively enables organisations to leverage the insights contained within vast volumes of information, driving competitive advantage and giving them an edge.

Organisations today are repositories of large volumes of data about their customers, their brand and their operations, which can deliver important insights if useful information can be gained from this data. From databases to emails, call centre information to feedback generated on social media platforms, there is a wealth of value that can be unlocked, and the key to leveraging this value is predictive analytics. Using this tool, organisations gain the ability to make more informed, fact-based decisions, improving business agility. Predictive analytics enables organisations to proactively establish the outcomes of ‘what if’ scenarios, delivering a snapshot of likely future trends and patterns based on current and historical data.

However, while predictive analytics is a highly sophisticated tool, it must be applied in the right areas of the organisation in order to deliver maximum value. Predictive analytics is designed to solve challenges at a transactional level, making it very useful for operational business decisions, including understanding customer behaviour. It allows companies to identify market and buying preferences, customer churn probability, and other trends and patterns within transactional data. Given the pace of today’s business environment and its competitive nature, this information is invaluable, as it allows organisations to identify problems quickly, retain customers, and proactively maintain products and services before they fail.

For example, a major car manufacturer may use predictive analytics to analyse data such as current information from dealers, data on vehicle computers, repair information and call centre data, and use these insights to continually improve vehicles, customer service and sales. Information such as defects that appear during warranty periods, allow the manufacturer to continuously evaluate and improve the manufacturing and service process, resulting in more reliable vehicles and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Another example of the power of predictive analytics lies in the insurance industry, where claims assessors have to process hundreds of claims a day and decide whether they are legitimate or fraudulent. Predictive analytics speeds this process, using historical data from similar transactions as well as customer data and other information, to accurately predict the likelihood of a claim being fraudulent, in near real-time. This can save insurance companies large amounts of money when paying out claims.

Call centre sales agents can use predictive analytics to identify cross selling opportunities, based on historical client data, client profiling, products purchased by similar customers and so on. This means that products and services can be tailored for maximum uptake. Similarly, predictive analytics can be used by telecoms companies, using customer data to predict the likelihood of churn, so that actions can be taken to retain the customer before they move to another provider.

In the past, predictive analytical capabilities have been limited by data volumes, as the tools available were not able to cope. This lead companies to reduce the amount of information used for analysis, mainly as a result of time constraints, which in turn limited the accuracy of predictions. With the sophisticated tools available today, which are able to handle large volumes of both structured and unstructured data, including social media data, the insights gained are far more accurate. If the outcomes desired of predictive analytics are based on business goals, and work within the strengths of the tool, in other words harnessing the power of transactional data, predictive analytics has enormous power to drive real insights, change customer interactions and gain more value from customers. This gives organisations an important competitive edge by putting them one step ahead of their competition.

 

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