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What exactly is data? Many define it as a set of values that belong to a set of items. Essentially, data is all around us, and we use it on a daily basis. Data, by itself is largely useless – think of the last time you saw a spreadsheet without any labels. But through the use of tools that help us analyze, interpret and manipulate data, we are able to turn it into something useful: Information. The question is, what are the useful data analysis tools?
Here’s a brief overview of five data analysis tools that you could use in your business.
One of the more common uses of data is to help a business manager make predictions. We all know predictions are among the hardest things to do. Enterprises hire staff and invest in systems solely with the aim of making predictions. If you’re a small business, you likely don’t need expensive software that is hard to use.
Enter BigML. How it works is you define and upload a set of data and format it. BigML will then take that data, help you to create a prediction model which you then can apply ‘what-if’ variables to and have it generate predictions. The site runs on credits; you pay for a set amount of credits and each part of the process – dataset, model and prediction – is worth a certain amount of credits. Prices start at around USD$6.50 for credits, which gives you 10MB of data, 5MB worth of models and 10K predictions based on this data.
Wolfram|Alpha’s Facebook Reports
WolframAlpha is a search engine that collects data and uses algorithms to interpret it. One feature of this site is that you can develop reports, one of the more useful being Facebook Reports. You can access the report feature by clicking here. Alternatively, you can go to the WolframAlpha website and search for Facebook.
This report provides users with a glimpse into their Facebook Page’s information. It provides you with information on who are the most active posters, how many shares/likes, etc. you get and other useful information in easy to read charts and graphs. The key here is that the report can show you how customers access your Page and where they come from. You could use this information to see what posts users liked and didn’t like, and provide more engaging content.
The basic version of the report is free. More advanced controls and data analysis is available for USD$4.99 a month.
Many Eyes is a data analysis and visualization tool developed by IBM Research. If you already have data sets then you can upload them to the website and use one of the many different visualization tools to create charts, graphs, etc.
A cool feature of this site is that it has the ability to analyze written documents. Say for example you are writing new content for your website, you can copy and paste the content and get a visual representation of the words you use, how you connect words, etc. If you have a set of keywords you would like to use for SEO and search purposes, you can manually compare them with the visualization. If you notice that an important keyword is missing, or not represented enough, you can go through and re-write the copy a bit.
Best of all, it’s free.
If you have an idea about Business Intelligence, or have worked with data on a regular basis and have sets that are structured, Tableau Public is probably the most powerful free analysis tool available for small businesses.
While powerful, it isn’t the most user-friendly of options. To get the most out of this program you are going to need to know the basics behind data analysis. If you feel comfortable with the basics, you’ll be creating dashboards, charts, interactive graphs, maps, etc. that look great and can be embedded on your blog or website. Oh yes, did we mention it’s free?
Big data is all the rage these days, it’s hard not to hear techies and data specialists talk about it. While it is an important part of many large businesses’ data analysis practices, the truth is many small businesses don’t need big data just yet. If you have simple data you need to analyze e.g., how many hours have your five employees worked this month? Why not stick with simple spreadsheets like Excel or Google Spreadsheet.
As long as you have data entered in a logical way, you can easily create graphs and charts that can help you visualize and analyze your data.
If you would like help establishing a system that can help you track and analyze your data, please contact us today, we may have a solution that works for you.
Published on 28th March 2013 by Jeanne DeWitt.