Big data is big news in today’s digitized world. With the explosion of Internet usage and social media networks, there’s a massive cloud of data being generated about people all over the world, and it’s growing at an exponential rate.
Until recently, big data has been a mining center for big business to learn more about customer behaviors, desires, trends and browsing or buying patterns. It takes a sophisticated system and considerable computing power to sort through all that information and pull something useful out of it.
However, technology has advanced in power—and come down in price. Now, even small businesses can tap into the power of big data to improve the customer experience and boost bottom lines.
Analytics: The Key to Using Big Data
The term “big data” covers a lot of ground. Data is collected from every action that’s performed on an Internet-connected network—sending an email or tweet, posting to Facebook or a blog, commenting or rating, updating a profile, shopping online, using a cell phone or tablet, even swiping a credit card at a physical store. Every action generates a digital footprint that’s stored somewhere in the ether.
That’s a lot of data. To obtain useful information from this vast ocean, you’ll need some serious analytical power that can find the relevant bits and display them in a format you can understand. Fortunately, that power is both affordable and accessible through various platforms from free programs like Google Analytics to inexpensive business tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software.
What Can Your Small Business Do With Big Data?
If you’re looking to tap into the vast, rich landscape of big data, there are a number of avenues to explore.
Sort Through Your Social Media
You’re already connected to many of your customers through your business social media networks,aren’t you? Well, the data collection doesn’t have to stop there. Tools like Social Mention, Twilert, and Kurrently let you set up alerts and notifications whenever a subject is mentioned online like your business itself, the products or services you offer or any relevant keyword.
Once you start tracking these mentions, you can tailor your responses and conversations to build buzz, generate more interest and improve customer satisfaction and engagement.
Collect Customized Data With CRM
There are many inexpensive (even free) CRM systems that offer fully featured platforms to track interactions with customers and prospects. Programs such as Insightly, Zolo, and Nimble not only provide an inside line to big data, but also help you sort through it and pinpoint the most helpful information.
These platforms also include social media functionality, so you can streamline your big data collection from multiple sources.
Monitor and Mine Customer Calls
Whether you’re working with a few office lines, a VoIP system with mobile capabilities, or a third-party call center, customer service calls can be an important source of data. Be sure you’re collecting your call logs and analyzing the information.
Customer call data can help you:
- Discover the demographics of your callers.
- Identify the most common problems that result in a phone call.
- Analyze inbound calling trends.
- Optimize customer service through strategic call routing.
Many web-based VoIP systems include analytics and automated call logs, and they’re also an inexpensive solution for business voice needs.
How can your small business take advantage of big data?
Data Photo via Shutterstock
The post How a Small Business Can Use Big Data appeared first on Small Business Trends.
Editor’s Note: Nir Eyal writes about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business at NirAndFar.com. Follow him @nireyal.
How do products tempt us? What makes them so alluring? It is easy to assume we crave delicious food or impulsively check email because we find pleasure in the activity. But pleasure is just half the story.
Temptation is more than just the promise of reward. Recent advances in neuroscience allow us to peer into the brain, providing a greater understanding of what makes us want.
In 2011, Sriram Chellappan, an assistant professor of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, gained unheard of access to sensitive information about the way undergraduates were using the Internet. His study tracked students on campus as they browsed the web. Chellappan was looking for patterns, which not only revealed what students were doing online, but provided clues about who they were.
“We believe that your pattern of Internet use says something about you,” Chellappan wrote in the New York Times. “Specifically, our research suggests it can offer clues to your mental well-being.” Chellappan concluded that there was, in fact, predictive power in the data. He found students with early signs of clinical depression used the Internet differently and he could identify students most likely to face mental health issues simply by looking at how they clicked.
“We identified several features of Internet usage that correlated with depression,” wrote Chellappan. “For example, participants with depressive symptoms tended to engage in very high e-mail usage.”
Chellappan developed the technology in hopes of creating an early-warning system to identify struggling students. But his study raised another question, why do people with depression check email more?
The answer may provide clues about why all of us use the products and services we do in our everyday lives. Psychologists believe people with depression feel negative emotions, like anxiety, more frequently than other people do. There is evidence that the depressed students in Chellappan’s study were using the Internet more because they experience negative mental states more often. To try and feel better, they turned to the web to boost their mood.
Finding ways to make ourselves feel better is not something only depressives do. We all seek relief from feeling bad and the brain is primed to help us learn where we can find escape. Just as we might take a Tylenol to relieve a headache, we turn to products to relieve emotional pain. In fact, these two biological processes are so closely linked that taking a Tylenol has been shown to ease both physical and emotional pain. The drug is effective in treating headache and heartache.
Having a pain to cure is a necessary prerequisite to using products. Recent neuroscience reveals the brain even adds pain to things that were previously pleasurable to push us to get what our bodies want. When temptation is activated in the brain, it induces a biological process that not only turns on the pleasure response, but also the body’s physiological stress response.
Consider a 2005 study which looked at the physiological response of women exposed to images of chocolate. Researchers observed that the women experienced a subconscious reaction of alarm similar to seeing a threatening animal in the wild. The women, who had identified themselves as “chocolate cravers,” described feeling not only pleasure at the thought of consuming the chocolate, but also agitation, angst, and a feeling of a loss of control in the face of their desire. For these women’s brains, temptation was stressful.
Since the 1950s, researchers have explored how the brain’s reward system compels behavior. Our understanding of the complex circuitry shows that pleasure and pain work together. Once the brain learns something good is about to happen, it induces a craving we feel as stress. The fastest relief from this discomfort is to get what we want.
Exaggeration and Fear
Companies, of course, are masters of temptation. If marketing is defined as, “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers,” then implicit in this practice is accentuating the positive aspects of what being sold. This technique is used not only in hawking goods, but is also found in nature. Animals have been tricking each other by accentuating desirable traits for millennia. The process is called “super-normal stimuli” and it is a key to enticing action by creating the stress of desire.
Another way products induce intense desire is through a certain kind of fear, particularly our innate need to have as much as the next person. The phenomenon is exhibited with a simple experiment conducted by Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University.
In the study, de Waal rewarded two capuchin monkeys with a cucumber when they completed a simple task, in this case, handing a rock to the researcher. When both monkeys were given the same reward, they completed the task as prescribed.
But when the researcher gave one monkey a grape while offering the other the standard cucumber, the results were very different. The stiffed monkey, who was perfectly content just seconds before with his cucumber, began shrieking, baring his teeth, thrashing in his cage, and pounding on the table to show his anger. Known in the vernacular as FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, marketers utilize this inborn trigger to incite pain akin to what the capuchin monkey felt in de Waals cage.
Marketers tasked with increasing consumption of their company’s products have a difficult job; they are often charged with manufacturing desire. To do that, they need to find the customer’s problem, their pain, in order to alleviate it. Without the biological basis spurring our desire, there would be no sales. So marketers must at least accentuate, if not induce, a level of discomfort to make us crave their wares.
Like in the undergraduates in Chellappan’s study exhibiting signs of depression, we all seek to escape feeling bad. The products and services that provide immediate relief are those we come to depend upon most.
Photo Credit: Orofacial
Kytephone, the Y Combinator-backed startup making smartphones kid-friendly and safe, is now expanding its focus beyond the “little kids” crowd with the introduction of a new platform for teenagers and parents. Called “Kytetime,” the system is designed more for keeping track of a child’s location and their phone usage, rather than strictly locking down the phone or offering a simplified user interface.
The company first launched last summer to address the problems associated with smartphones being put into the hands of ever younger children, whether as their own device or on loan from their busy parent, caving into the kid’s request to play games. With the original Kytephone Android application, the software is able to take advantage of apps’ ability to deeply integrate with the Android platform, and presents a kid-friendly interface that also lets mom or dad control who the child can phone or receive calls from, which apps they can access, and more. It also taps into the phone’s GPS for a location-tracking feature.
Now Kytephone has repurposed that same technology for its teen-focused product, Kytetime, which is reminiscent of the “Net Nanny” applications which tracked kids’ Internet usage on desktops, and restricted access to inappropriate content.
Similarly, Kytetime, can also track how the teen is spending time on their phone, what websites they’re visiting, how much time the teen spends in each app, when apps are used, who the teen is talking to and texting with, and more.
However, because it’s the next step up from Kytephone’s “kiddie” interface, the system doesn’t actually block sites or apps entirely, though it does allow a parent to set up “time of day” controls for app. This prevents teens from using apps after a designated bed time or during school hours, for example.
So yes, no more Snapchatting in class, it seems.
“Kytetime is focused on awareness rather than control,” explains Ktyephone’s Anooj Shah. “Our goal was for the child and parent to be aware of how the child uses the phone and highlight opportunities where the kid can use the phone more responsibly,” he says. “We wanted Kytetime to facilitate a conversation between the parent and the child, rather than all out control.”
Unlike the original app, Kyteime doesn’t offer an app sandboxing functionality, nor does it present a child interface. Instead, the teens get full access to the Android interface, as they would normally.
However, parents still have the location-tracking feature available to them, and they have an online and mobile-friendly “Parent Dashboard,” where they can configure settings and track activity in real time. Parents can also receive email reports, summarizing their teen’s activities.
But like the Kytephone kids application, the new Kytetime app is also available as a free download from the Google Play app store. Access to the Kytetime Parent Dashboard and the email activity reports will only be available on a subscription basis. The fee is $40 per year, or $5 on a monthly basis. A two-week free trial is available upon sign-up, and it doesn’t require a credit card to try out.
To date, Kytephone has been installed by tens of thousands of users (Google Play shows installs between 10,000 and 50,000 but the company didn’t want to share exact numbers publicly). It has users in 60 countries worldwide. Kytetime, which now has over 1,000 installs of its own since launch a couple of days ago, is already gaining parents’ attention.
Though not everyone is happy, of course. Writes one user in his review: “I hate it !!!!!!!!! Say one who it is used on,” laments the teen.