Data may not be a physical, tangible thing but it is still one of the most valuable assets for modern business owners. With the right information, and enough knowledge to ask the right questions, you can build up a picture of how your business is performing, who your customers are, and what interests them.
Until recently, big data, CRM and data mining were things that only larger companies could take advantage of, but today such data solutions and technology is accessible to almost any company thanks to the power and flexibility of cloud services. You do not need to be a technology expert, have complex data quality assessment tools or have a big budget and a sizeable server farm to generate interesting reports and get actionable insights.
Thanks to tools like Salesforce CRM, Sidekick and Hubsport for communications, and Google Analytics for sales data, as well as the built-in reporting tools for things like Magento, you can easily access a huge amount of information about the performance of various parts of your company.
Why Cloud Technology?
Using cloud technology for your data solutions makes sense because it frees you from the expense of having to have your own hardware and software. In addition, it offers greater flexibility for your data quality management tools. If you are renting your own server, you will likely be in a position where you have to guess what level of server provisioning you want – and you will be forced to over-provision to ensure that the server is always working. This means that you are paying for hardware and software that is vastly under-utilized the vast majority of the time, simply because you want to avoid downtime during the occasional peaks in usage.
With cloud services, you usually pay only for the storage and computing cycles that you use, so you pay nothing (or a nominal account fee) when your data solutions are not in use, a small amount for a couple of instances during normal load, and then extra at the times when it is necessary. For the average business, this will be more cost effective than over-provisioning.
Maintaining Data Solutions and Technology
In addition, someone else will be responsible for maintaining the OS, the database management system, the server software, and the security. The only thing you will be responsible for is any bespoke software you are running on the instance, and any scripts that you installed manually.
This saves you time and removes the support burden from your in-house IT team, while giving you the peace of mind that your data solutions and technology are being run in a secure environment.
There are some challenges with off-site data solutions. Besides managing data quality, data protection is one important issue. It is your responsibility to confirm where the data you send to the server is being held, and what data protection measures your technology provider has in place. Sometimes, foreign data centers use different rules, and you will need to take extra precautions to ensure that you are operating in compliance with the data protection law of your country.