How it Works: Analytics Explained In 5 Minutes [video]

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"Today, information is flowing, like mighty rivers, from a trillion connected and intelligent things, and soon the amount of digital information will grow to 988 exabytes, equivalent to a stack of books from the Sun to Pluto and back again. With 80% of new data growth existing as unstructured content, from music files to 3D images to medical records to email keystrokes, the challenge is trying to pull it all together and make sense of it."

Searching for a baseball glove in an old dark closet is nothing like finding a singing bird high in a tree; different objects, different environments, different methods. Likewise, at companies today, different types of information reside in so many different environments and are stored in so many different formats, that quickly extracting meaning from what you have is becoming impossible.

But what if you could tap into this information to uncover lucrative business opportunities? What if you had the inside information you needed to retain customers or improve research? What if you could inject certainty and predictability into the decision-making process? Savvy organizations are asking these questions, and they're finding highly intelligent and profitable answers in clever analytics software that can organize, store, and mine all of the information scattered throughout their organization and provide customized intelligence to gain faster insight from this information.

Every day, companies make bet-the-business decisions about their customers, competitors, new products, and even their own reputations based on account balances, delivery schedules, profit margins, and more, and most of them do it with crossed fingers. That's because they know that decision-making today is an art, based on incomplete and conflicting information and that hunches play a big role in determining which way to go. Now, imagine a company that could look at all that information at once, spot hidden trends before they occur, predict outcomes in everything from weather forecasting to transportation scheduling to financial performance, keep its information safe and secure by providing access to the right people while keeping out the trouble-makers and determine all the of the different variations of a person's name. That's analytics.

For example, in order for a company to attract and retain its best customers, it needs a precise portrait of who they are; their wants, their needs, their buying patterns. Analytics tools can paint that picture by analyzing and interpreting vast quantities of data; customer demographics, product purchase histories, internet experiences, and online transactions, turning information into insight and developing conclusive, fact-based strategies to gain that competitive edge.

The underlying technology works in three stages. First, advanced analytics algorithms, using search and index technologies, begin sifting through all of the different pieces of information for gems of intelligence. Second, the information is correlated and analyzed for patterns and trends at more than 200 times a second, faster than a hummingbird can flap its wings. Third, this advanced analysis is quickly turned into insight that is used to determine which actions drive optimal results. Recommended actions, along with supporting information, are delivered to the systems or people that can effectively implement them, rather than making gut decisions and hoping for the best.

Imagine what this kind of new intelligence could do for retailers in terms of capturing and analyzing changes in markets, trends, and consumer preferences at holiday time. Imagine what it could do for doctors in terms of making better diagnosis and treatment decisions, developing new drugs, and predicting health issues before they happen by crunching data in days and weeks instead of months and years. Imagine what it could do for insurance companies in terms of seeing patterns in billions of claims and identifying the few that are fraudulent. And imagine what it could do for police departments in terms of correlating street-level information from myriad observations and devices to identify crime patterns and prevent them.

As organizations are discovering, the best part of this technology is its limitless horizons. Breakthroughs are occurring virtually every day in our understanding of how to process all of the different kinds of data and turn it into, not just organized information or knowledge, but actual intelligence.

What wasn't visible before is becoming visible for the first time, and this will change the conventional wisdom of business forever. And that's how it works.

Online Behavior © 2012