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The consumer generates a lot of data about their habits, preferences, and experiences that businesses can use to optimize their products and services to match the needs of customers. Choosing the right analytics tool to collect and analyze this data is a crucial step towards achieving business goals for increased engagement, higher sales and more efficient operations.

When choosing a tool, first determine the type of data you want to incorporate and how you intend to integrate it. Some tools are more targeted towards traditional enterprise reporting while others are designed to assist you conduct more sophisticated mathematical analysis or monitor sensitive information like healthcare data. You also need to consider the ways that the analytics tools you’re considering will fit into your current workflow systems and data architecture.

Some tools provide an iterative experience for data scientists as well as advanced users, while others are primarily designed to allow nontechnical or casual users to perform point-and-click analysis. Think about the capabilities and features of each tool, especially those that relate to visualization of data. Some are designed to facilitate the visualization of charts while others rely on SQL or other tools from third parties to model your data before you can examine it.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, consider the cost and whether the software relies on subscription fees or software licenses. Some tools are completely free, whereas others require an upfront investment as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Be sure to weigh these costs against the potential profit from the knowledge and efficiency that can be gained from using the analytics tool.