Big Data Is Not So Big: Dun & Bradstreet Empowers Data-Driven Small Business

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored product review. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Dun & Bradstreet has hired me as an influencer to help them raise awareness about their new Business Solutions Insights Microsoft Office 365 partnership with Ingram Micro Cloud. I am not formally employed by Dun & Bradstreet. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of www.dnb.com.

Big data has long been a debilitating term in the business world.

When it comes to business, we all would prefer to make better, more informed decisions. In order to achieve this, we have to collectively become comfortable with the notion of being data-driven. Making data-driven decisions has little to do with how “big” your data is, but rather how you make the data that you collect every day through transactions, interactions and prospecting work for you.

For many companies – be they Fortune 500 or small businesses – this data and information is often unstructured. This information both lives and dies in different systems, processes, and in some cases, people within organizations.

The key to being able to use this information to the advantage of the business is to aggregate all of your business insights simply in one place for anyone in the organization to use.

I had a unique opportunity to chat with my friends at Dun & Bradstreet® to discuss their recent participation at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit held last week in Phoenix, Arizona. I also had the opportunity to get an exclusive demo of their new Business Solutions Tool for Office 365 available via the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace®.

Image courtesy of IngramMicro.com.

 Big data is not so big – when you break it down.

One of the recurring questions about big data is: What makes it so complex? In speaking  with Karlos Palmer, VP of Global Alliances and Partnership Strategies and Nakul Kapoor,  Senior Director of Partner Enablement at Dun & Bradstreet, they break down the  complexity of data into what they call the four Vs of big data:

  • Volume – The scale of data. This is how much data you have stored and living across your business.
  • Variety – The many different forms of data. From demographic information to customer profiles, the range of data you collect is both useful and innumerable.
  • Velocity– The analysis of streaming data. With the connectivity of things growing every day, there is a constant flow of data streaming at all times. Dun & Bradstreet® reported at last week’s Ingram Micro Cloud Summit that there are as many as 18.9 billion network connections (2.5 connections per every person on earth).
  • Veracity– The uncertainty of data. Unreliable data is costly to your business. It has been reported that poor data costs the U.S. Economy around $3.1 trillion per year. Somewhere along the data continuum, there has to be a cleansing of your data to be able to use it effectively.

The businesses that have yet to implement an operational call-to-action for data struggle in one of more of these areas.

As a small business owner, I understand the value of making decisions rooted in good data. What prevents me from exploring my options is my concern for how much it will cost me to implement a solution and the ease of use.

After seeing the demo of Dun & Bradstreet’s Business Solutions Add-in for Office 365, I am excited about the possibilities this product holds for small to mid-size businesses to make more insightful, data-inspired decisions.

Less is truly more.

Think about how you have traditionally created reports in Microsoft Excel® and imagine even the smallest sets of data reconciled with Dun & Bradstreet’s insights – only to give you more valuable information than what you started with.

Here’s how the Dun &Bradstreet Business Solutions Tool works:

  • Dun & Bradstreet has accumulated a collection of data around sales, marketing, supply chain and credit risk that spans its 175-year old history.
  • They have created an add-in in the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace that can be used with your Microsoft Office 365.
  • Through your normal reporting in Excel, you can take something as simple as a spreadsheet with name, email, and address – and have Dun & Bradstreet run your information against its over 30,000 sources.
  • What you get depends on which of the nine modules you use across sales, marketing, supply chain and their advanced data tools are insights like:

– Understand Your Customers™ module – this module allows you to bring in a minimal amount of data points and in return gives you insights on your customer’s history, market behavior, etc.

– Get Prospects List™ module- this module allows you to search your customer list and get a targeted view of customers you should be meeting with when you go on the road for meetings and conferences, etc.

  • Your data is now reliable because it is driven by Dun & Bradstreet’s D-U-N-S Number® that connects demographic information with just about everything a single business does over the lifetime of their business (credit standing, sales and marketing, industry, years in business, business hierarchies, etc.).
  • All of the segmentation and data cleansing is done for you. Every record comes back with a rating for Dun & Bradstreet’s success in matching your record with their sources.

How much will it cost you?

This is my favorite part. The Dun & Bradstreet Business Solutions add-in is available to us with a minimum investment of $25.00 per month (note: The price may increase if you have to purchase the Microsoft Office 365 suite as well).  However, if you are already a Microsoft Office 365 customer, you can simply download this free add-in and enable it by depositing increments of $25.00 into your Dun & Bradstreet Business Solutions account.

Every time you run a module, the product will draw from your existing balance. Most queries charge $0.75 per record or per list of 25 records.

How can you get it?

Dun & Bradstreet’s Business Solutions Insights for Office 365 can be purchased in the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace by clicking here. You can also purchase it through any Ingram Micro Cloud reseller.

Enterprise quality solutions are now available for SMBs. This is an exciting step in all of us becoming data-driven inspired business owners.

To read the press release regarding Dun & Bradstreet’s partnership with Microsoft Office 365 and Ingram Micro Cloud click here.

 

 

A Perfect Union: Talent Management and Predictive Analytics

Image courtesy of Flickr.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Human Capital Institute on the HCI Podcast. The focus for our discussion was: The Future of Predictive Analytics in Talent Management. It’s interesting to think about the future of this union- yet it would seem that we are getting ahead of ourselves to be so forward-thinking. One of the things I hope came across in this podcast was that the adoption of predictive analytics, big data and the like doesn’t need to be complicated.

In recent weeks, I have discussed the perils of trying to keep up with every trend in business. The key to unlocking the potential of this perfect union between predictive analytics and talent management is starting with what you have – regardless of where you think you need to be on the data continuum. There’s no script anyone can write for how HR should be utilizing data. Every organization has to decide why the data they are collecting is important and how the answers they receive will help them improve something or reach an outcome.

It is my belief that talent management is one of the more useful places to start to use analytics. How many more times can your times can you meet to decide what referral sources garner your recruitment team the best candidates? This is a common discussion among recruitment teams that could be easily answered if you can get everyone to focus in on the data surrounding referral sources. If you know what’s working and what is not you can begin to document trends. When you start documenting trends, you can start being more predictive in modeling and forecasting your recruitment efforts against the data you have for referral sources. The same is true for using analytics for retention, development and succession planning.

Here’s a tip:

It doesn’t matter where you start looking within your talent management practices. Choose an area. Decide what you want to measure and then examine it consistently to discover trends. Those trends will help illuminate blindspots and areas of untapped opportunity. Once you know what those areas are, you start to take action. Additionally, your goal is to use the trends you find to forecast and model for the future – instead of operating and/or planning just-in-time.

Predictive Analytics isn’t about taking one giant leap or step. It is about the cascading of knowledge you derive from your data around talent management to make better decisions. Becoming data-driven requires an open mind, consistency, and action.

Listen to my podcast with HCI below to hear what else I had to say about this perfect union of predictive analytics and talent management.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyi849ZMHF8

Are We There Yet: The State of Digital Marketing and Data Adoption

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Dun & Bradstreet hired me as a blogger to cover their Data- Inspired Digital Strategies Forum Event in New York on December 1st, 2015.  I am not formally employed by Dun & Bradstreet. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

It turns out the answer to the aforementioned question is a resounding “no”. There are a lot of ideas and theories about how businesses can effectively engage with their respective markets. Unfortunately, the limiting factor at the moment is not that we don’t have enough data or even opportunity to be actionable- but that we have too much data and very little adoption of using it for most purposes in business. This was just one of the many takeaways I gleaned from the panel discussions at last week’s Dun and Bradstreet’s Data-Inspired Digital Marketing Strategies Forum – which took place at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City on, December 1st.

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

The big question of the day was: How can we use data to better reach the right people at the right time?

Have you noticed that many of the ads that you view online now seem somewhat tailored to things you search or products, services and people you are interested in? What about the sudden shift in voice of several of the leading brands? The vintage use of catchy phrases, jingles and an impersonal tone is no longer the foundation of good marketing or good business. We’re in an age of rapid transformation on all fronts of business. Think about the last commercial or ad you viewed. Chances are the commercials or ads you viewed didn’t just cut-to-the-chase and urge you to purchase something. Of late, marketing is starting to sound and feel a little more personal. It is almost as if the company trying to get your attention had you in mind when they created said service, product etc. What is clear is that businesses must meet the customer where they are by making sure they are engaging with prospective customers with the right messaging or solution at the time when they are poised to make a purchasing decision. Anudit Vikram, SVP, Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet shared that: “Digital Marketing is about how many integrated touch points we can have with prospective customers across all channels.”

It turns out looking at “quantity” of touch points alone isn’t a comprehensive marketing approach either. Businesses have to also be mindful that the data they are harnessing is quality. Your insights and planning will only be as good as the data that has informed it. This is where many companies are missing the mark. It is key to take a step back and consider what the overall plan is. As I have mentioned in several articles this year, you cannot do the “data thing” just to do it. It was echoed in several of the talks that there needs to be clarity around the outcomes businesses are trying to achieve. It was also strongly suggested that businesses have a concrete plan for how they will harvest and synthesize the data that will facilitate digital marketing initiatives.

To ensure that you are on the right track to having good and clean data, do the following:

  • Start small by piloting your data collection on one initiative or program. This allows you to triage any issues and standardize your measurements before extending your methods to other areas of the business.
  • Be clear on what measures and methods you will use to measure outcomes. Data is only as good as its inputs.
  • Implement the right technology resources to facilitate the collection, evaluation and application of your data. Technology implemented correctly can be helpful in centralizing the collection and management of your data- decreasing the necessity of having to manipulate the data regularly due to errors.

It is clear that the way we conduct business and market our services has changed given the digital climate we are experiencing. What isn’t as clear is: How do we get people to consistently make use of the data that is available them?  Moreover, how do we get people to see that the use of data (be it in marketing or otherwise) as an opportunity and not as a threat?

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Image courtesy of Dun & Bradstreet

Looking towards 2016 and evaluating the state of data adoption and data-driven marketing Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun &Bradstreet stated: “2016 is an inflection point for digital marketing.” That is to say that we’re at a prime point on the trajectory and evolution of digital marketing where we are poised to “target, capture and convert” our most prized customers. It is time to decide whether your business can survive with or without the use of data insights. Better yet, can you afford to continue blindly marketing to your customer segment while settling for marginal responses and outcomes. Let 2016 be your “inflection point” and reflect on how you can start putting the data you have today to work in an effort to improve your business across-the-board.

 For further insights from the event, check out two of the speaker presentations below:

Theresa Kushner, VP of Enterprise Data Management- Data, Data Everywhere: Making the most of it in the 21st Century.

Josh Mueller, SVP of Digital Operations at Dun & Bradstreet and Anudit Vikram, SVP Chief Product Officer-Audience Solutions for Dun & Bradstreet- Data-Inspired Digital Marketing.

 

Competitive Partnerships Powering the Future of Business

Competitive Partnerships

I was at IBM Insight last week and as per usual it was an awarding experience. There is a shift going on in business and technology that I find both interesting and exciting. It is a shift that is about partnership over competition. Big name technology companies are partnering with new school app developers and tech startups to provide consumers with better products, experiences and customer service.

Courtesy of IBM.

Image courtesy of IBM.

 

You may be thinking: “How will this all be done?” The surge of cognitive technology is leading the way in allowing for better insights that allow for a better understanding of people. Cognitive technology allows us to get to the root of people’s behaviors, motivations, needs, and wants. The compilation of this information around these things allows companies to provide a personalized experience and resolution to some of the most pressing human issues.

For instance, we all know the dreaded unexpected breakdown of appliances. They are costly and unwelcomed. Whirlpool is focused on the connecting everything that is important to us through mobile-optimized appliances. This means that you could receive notification telling us that a part in our machines is going and have that information sent back to Whirlpool for troubleshooting.

Image courtesy of IBM.

Image courtesy of IBM.

Box is working with IBM’s Watson Analytics to synthesize the information you house in Box to provide real-time analytics for end users. I know it frustrates me to have unstructured information and data that is either hidden or lost in the systems I use. To be able, to have insights derived from the files you save with Box is a tremendous capability for individuals and business owners.

Courtesy of IBM.

Courtesy of IBM.

The Internet of Weather

How about all of these catastrophic weather events we’re experiencing? The Weather Company is  on the heels of being acquired by IBM for their Internet of Things division.  At the conference, they described an app that could be used during hurricanes not only for timely push notifications based on minute-to-minute news surrounding a weather event; but also the app has the ability to function as a flashlight and alarm to alert authorities to people who may be stranded during a catastrophic weather event.

Partnership > Competition

It is interesting to see the market moving in a direction where being competitive means partnering with a competitor to disrupt the market and provide a better product overall. Companies that you wouldn’t dream of seeing on the same billboard let alone working together realize that innovation in a vacuum is no innovation at all. The reality is: Customers want more. Whether it is quality of customer experience or a better product- very few companies are able to upkeep the supply of new, exciting and efficient products. In return, they are collaborating with other businesses or competitors to leverage their respective market strengths and technology to create new or increased value.

Why Should HR Practitioners Care?

With all these new ways of collaborating and doing business, HR needs to be looking at new and creative ways to deploy individuals and teams to get the work done. Additionally, it is a wake up call to all of us to remain aware of the changing business climate. We need to be aware of shifts in business and be prepared to pivot how we serve in our organizations. You can’t be a part of the conversation, if you don’t know what’s going on. It is equivalent to the moments in which a person comes in on the tail end of a conversation and arrives at an incorrect conclusion because they were otherwise occupied or absent from the majority of the conversation. We have a duty to become knowledgeable not only in the practice of Human Resources, but in business, market shifts, changes in customer behaviors and sentiments. It is near impossible to be a true partner to the C-Suite when you don’t know enough to craft a solution.

How do you see these competitive partnerships impacting what we do in HR?

Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode. Subscribe to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel to be notified when new episodes are published.

Cybersecurity is a Business and Personal Imperative

Campaign/FTC disclosure: I will receive compensation for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. Freedome VPN has hired me as a brand ambassador for this campaign because of my influence on social media and knowledge of cybersecurity concerns. I am not formally employed by Freedome VPN. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of F-Secure

Image courtesy of F-Secure

As HR professionals, we are responsible for handling sensitive information all day. From new employees’ social security numbers to legal documents-we are entrusted with the identities of our people daily. In business, we are increasingly relying on technology to house sensitive information; but are we doing everything in our power to ensure the security of our employees information? Those of us that have worked in government or government-related companies understand that the best defense against potential cyber threats is the individual. Training your employees to identify and prevent potential exposure to threats provides a formidable first-line of defense to hacking, phishing and other cyber annoyances. Which begs the question-what are the secondary and tertiary lines of cyber defense?

After working remotely for sometime now, there are always company concerns about the security of my own devices. In fact, I have signed waivers in the past stating that the devices I used would utilize an anti-virus and malware program to prevent privacy threats- among other safeguards. I was also provided a virtual private network also known as a  VPN”, so I could work securely from any of my devices. With a demand for BYOD flexibility on our heels, how do we allow flexibility in how work gets done, while ensuring that our systems and proprietary information are secure? It requires robust technology as well as the collective of diligent individuals.

I have been using Freedome VPN for just about three weeks now. I’m not sure my online behavior would meet muster based on the case I am trying to make for iron-clad cybersecurity practices. For one, I regularly used open WiFi networks without using a VPN that could protect my information. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), most WiFi providers strongly suggest the use of VPNs’ to encrypt your data when using open connections in their terms and conditions. Oops! I never thought about using a VPN for personal use. It never occurred to me that it was necessary. I’ve always used it in business and saw it as the company’s way of allowing a safe bridge to company information. The need for protection on my desktop and laptop was evident, but I was neglecting the one device I spend the most time on- my smartphone. Double oops! I suspect I’m not the only one that has been slightly negligent and maybe greedy for a strong WiFi connection -such that I potentially compromised my privacy.

Shockingly, within the first day of using Freedome VPN, I had over 100 tracking attempts on my phone (seen in the screenshot below). On my laptop, I have had 14,218 tracking attempts blocked to date.

I had 154 tracking attempts within the first day of using Freedome VPN.

Screenshot_2015-02-17-23-11-44
It is evident that whether you are an individual,  SMB or Enterprise company, you need to invest in technology like Freedome VPN. It’s easy to download whether using a desktop,  Android or Apple Device. Once it is downloaded, it is activated by touching the center circle labeled “connecting” (as pictured above) and you are protected. Working with other VPN’s, it has often been a struggle to log-on and connect consistently. Often times, it would take me several attempts to sign into my VPN successfully before I could begin my work. With Freedome VPN, it is on all of my devices and there is no downtime. This allows me to be productive on-the-go without the concern of being exposed to cyber threats.

Protection is as easy as touching any of the headings and swiping back and forth to turn your protection “on” or “off”

Screenshot_2015-02-16-17-07-34

 

Everything we do is online. I have been the victim of identity theft twice in my life where my personal accounts were hacked. I have watched friends and colleagues who have had blogs and entire bodies of work hacked and destroyed. This is the reality of life lived both personally and professionally in the digital realm. Security is one of the most pressing concerns for both businesses and individuals today. It’s about time that we have simple online protection that works seamlessly with all of our devices without the hassle.

Freedome VPN has been incredibly generous with offering free trials of their product. As such, I am offering my readers a 90-day free trial so you can see for yourself how easy and powerful this product is. Go to: http://freedome.f-secure.com/vip/index.html and use code: “qsf257“.

If you’re not yet convinced of how easy it is to steal your information when using open WiFi networks, check out the video below from F-Secure. It shows you that anyone can create a WiFi network in an effort to steal your information. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Privacy is not a game.

 

 

 

 

 

About That Thing Big Data…Let’s Reframe Our Advice

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

For at least the past three years, there has been no shortage of articles written about the urgency of businesses and HR adopting a data mindset. Business analysts and experts on this subject have tried everything from threatening the existence of data-ignorant companies to making innumerable cases for why it should be a part of your company fabric. Admittedly, data is important. We cannot just go about our days wishfully doing business without the context behind what is really driving and affecting our operations. When you ask for that new system  that costs $500,000 you can’t just tell your boss you need the money- you need to provide a business case for how this new system will exponentially improve an operational segment and/or solve a business problem. The only way I have seen these requests approved is with data.

Now notice I simply refer to “data” and I don’t try to make it out to be this monstrosity that lies far and beyond the average person’s comprehension. My friends this is where analysts and big thinkers are losing the masses.

When we talk about data, data is data to the average practitioner. Moreover, most companies have barely scratched the surface of utilizing simple data to make business decisions- that it is hard for them to comprehend anything bigger. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s Talent Analytics Maturity Model– over 50% of companies are still working at the Reactive- Operational Reporting Level.

Why is the message “buy into the idea of big data” rather than a focus on helping the everyday practitioner or CEO utilize the data they have to make the decisions they need to make? I suppose I’m taking money out of someone’s pocket by saying this, but I don’t get why this concept can’t be explained simply.

Bigger isn’t always better… but the perception of it is scarier.

One of my connections on Twitter mentioned last week that she was both “ fascinated/concerned with big data”for 2015. To which I replied: “big data is a focus on data points that helps us operate in business more efficiently.” My response got me thinking further: shouldn’t all data achieve that result? All data isn’t good, relevant, or useful. Big data will not solve all of our problems, if we don’t first reframe our thinking about the purpose and use of data in business.

To that end, here are some simple thoughts that can assist you with using data in your organization:

  • Start simple. What do you want to know about your business that data can shed light on? Start here and start to build out the narrative with data.
  • Find purpose. What is the reason this data is important to your business? How will it help you modify or change what you do currently? If you don’t have a specific, actionable purpose for this data- why bother? The data should at a minimum serve as an operational baseline, but it can also be used to identify issues and opportunities.
  • Train your people to extract, synthesize, analyze and sensibly utilize data for the optimization of your business. I remember being asked ad nauseum for “Time-To-Fill” reports for my positions at a former employer. Leadership was convinced that aged requisitions over 60 days meant a recruiter was not efficient. They would use these reports to chastise recruiters that weren’t filling jobs within 30 days. While efficiency could have been a contributing factor to this metric, the truth was there were many other variables causing requisitions to age over 60 days (i.e. high requisition volume, hiring manager delays etc.). I provide this short anecdote to show you how a single piece of data was misused based on lack of clarity around its purpose and the inability of leadership to sensibly use the data.

One of the most important things HR can do this year is to become more data savvy.However, take the pressure off yourself of having to be a certified expert in big data. Instead, focus on piecing together the narratives that are most important to your business that way you can tackle the “bigger” and more complex scenarios later.

 

 

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