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July 21, 2015

Making Big Sense From Big Data


Big data has been the buzzword of the internet since about 2012. But, if truth be told, it’s time that we all got over that cynicism.Big data is more than just a buzzword – it’s now a common term (indeed, it’s no longer necessary to capitalize the words ‘Big Data’ – it has become commoditized enough that ‘big data’ will do just fine).But, grammatical trends aside, the fact remains that big data is all around us. It’s everywhere, in every comment we make on social, in every order we take at work, and in every email we send – plus a whole lot more.

Yes, big data is omnipresent in the modern world, and, as is its nature, it’s getting bigger all the time.

What Is Big Data?

A fair question. Just like ‘The Cloud’ (which, incidentally, has also been shorn of its capital letter grandiosities in common texts – it’s just ‘the cloud’ now), there seems to be a misconception that big data is something mystical, magical, and indeed esoteric as something only IT teams and computer geeks can possibly understand.

This is not true in either case, of course. The cloud simply refers to huge sets of servers that live in warehouses. That’s all the cloud is in reality.

And as for big data – well, the term simply refers to lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of data. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s just data, but referenced in ‘big’ amounts.

 

How Can SMEs Make Use Of Big Data?

To be fair, although the concept of both the cloud and big data can be understood in simple terms, when it comes to actually making the best use of them, then both can very quickly start to become rather complex.

Up until relatively recently, big data was the sole reserve of the large corporation – and this indeed is largely down to its complexity. As mentioned, big data simply refers to lots and lots of data. Reams of it. Mountains, waterfalls, oceans, icecaps.

Whilst acquiring and collecting this data is a relatively simple task, making sense of it all is not, and, historically, only very few people – known as data scientists –with very particular skills could interpret big data to turn it into useful and actionable marketing information.

These fancy people with their much coveted unique and fancy skills could of course command some rather fancy prices for their services – hence why it was only large enterprises or government bodies that could afford to employ such types, and therefore reap the benefits of what big data has to offer.

Now, however, things have changed slightly. One of the most glorious accomplishments of the internet (in my opinion) is found in its ability to democratize access to information – and nowhere is this better exemplified than in the amount of open source projects that can be found here, there and everywhere online.

From e-commerce stores to content management systems to – you guessed it! – big data analytics programs, free access to developmental software can be attained by practically anybody, which has meant that it is now possible for even SMEs to start reaping the benefits of big data.

 

SME Big Data Marketing 

Just like so many other areas in the modern economy, marketing has undergone somewhat of a revolution over the past few years with the growth of data analytics.

At the very least, as a marketer I’m sure that you’re using Twitter Analytics to help with your social media efforts, Google Analytics to help with website traffic, and of course the insights and statistics tool on the backend of your content management system.

However, the question remains – is this enough to give you a true edge over your competition?

A recent study shows that 45% of marketing executives rated their team’s use of big data analytics tools as being less than proficient.

Although this marks a clear majority (55%) of businesses which have gotten to grips with big data and what it can do for them, it nonetheless still indicates a significant minority that haven’t.

 

Big Data Marketing Objectives

A Gartner study reveals that the top 3 priorities for CMOs (chief marketing officers) are:

  • Driving company growth
  • Responding to competitive threats
  • Delivering an exceptional customer experience

 

The objective, then, for said CMOs is to utilize the power of big data to help them achieve these goals.

Where a lot of these marketers become unstuck, however, is that they use analytics tools merely as tracking devices for vanity metrics – increased web traffic, higher conversion rates, an extra thousand followers on Twitter last month, etc.

Whilst it obviously pays (and feels good) to keep an eye on the rising figures, many marketers are not actually using their analytics usefully. What they should be doing is embarking upon some proactive experimentation with their various campaigns, targeting particular users with particular content, and from there figuring out which strategies are working best through the scrutiny of their analytics.

The key here is for marketing executives to take the time to figure out exactly which metrics are truly useful to their campaigns, and which are simply interesting factoids.

So, in order to start making the most out of big data analytics, you need to ask yourself which of your metrics are most closely correlated with your main brand objectives – growth in sales, market share and customer retention.

 

Big Data For Everyone

 So, whilst it’s certainly the case that now SMEs don’t necessarily have to employ fancy data scientists to make sense out of all the fancy figures (though, to be fair, the greater the expertise of the data scientist, the better the predictions he/she will be able to make), it is nonetheless imperative that, as a marketer, you get to know the difference between vanity metrics and actionable metrics. Only this way will big data become useful for SMEs.

 

Published by Igor Varnava, July  21, 2015

 

Improving Security With Password Managers

“Password”, “123456”, “YourName” – Improving Security With Password Managers

There was once a time when all you needed to do was remember your email login password and you could be described as a top-notch password manager yourself. Not so anymore. With today’s business and even personal world taking place almost entirely online, we find ourselves having to remember sometimes literally dozens of passwords.

As such, it is quite understandable why many of us have become lazy with such a task on our hands (or rather our brains). So, what do we do to lighten the load? We just use one or two very easy to remember passwords to give ourselves access to all of our online accounts. What fools we are.

As we put more and more of our sensitive information online, an increasing amount of cybercriminals emerge with the sole objective of stealing it. And, if you’re one of those people that just use the one password for many accounts, if the cybercriminal hacks one, then he or she has hacked them all.

We all know that we should choose passwords that are complicated and almost entirely unguessable – tKoL&thY4RD0##0HD836452 is pretty good – but how on earth are we supposed to remember 10 or more of these nonsense sequences if we are to ever give ourselves access to our accounts, let alone a hacker?

Well, that’s where password managers come into play. These are truly great creations, at once giving you ultimate protection for all of your online accounts, and giving you easy access to them all as well. They are lifesavers in today’s online world. Now, with password managers, you can either sync or keep them local, with a single click change web passwords, log in to websites and much, much more.

Some, of course, are better than others. The best ones are the most flexible – the ones, for instance, that allow you to control everything from a single device, with no web or online components at all – or the option to conversely sync across all of your devices. All of them come with specially designed in-built features to help you improve your security through all of your web browsing, and of course protect your important data wherever you go.

So, we’ve decided to give you the low down on the best 3 password managers available, and recommend that you all pick one of these and start using it straight away if you’re not already.

 

  1. RoboForm

RoboForm is one of the oldest password managers on the market, having been around since 1999. It has gained itself a rather dedicated following over the years, and indeed there are users all around the globe who absolutely swear by it and no other.

It serves as both a form-autofill tool when on the web, as well as a password manager. You can either keep your data encrypted and local, or otherwise sync across devices and to the web if you so choose. If you have a USB drive, you can even carry RoboForm around with you from computer to computer.

 

  1. LastPass

LastPass was also one of the first key players in this market, and is one of the very best password managers out there. It secured its place in the market a long time ago by being one of the first password managers that took user experience seriously, making it really easy to store all of your passwords online, or otherwise synced across all of your devices and computers.

LastPass remembers all of your passwords, giving your brain a much needed break, and, what is more, it audits your passwords, helps you make them stronger, and will even automatically change a password for you if it detects that one of your accounts has become compromised.

 

  1. Dashlane

Dashlane is relatively new on the password manager scene, having only launched in beta as recently as 2012. However, what it lacks in age it makes up for in ease of use, features and security. It has risen very quickly in popularity, largely due to its easy-to-use interface, which users find most agreeable. Its key features include form-autofill, auto-login, simple security and logging of all purchases made from online shops. You also have the option to share your passwords with emergency contacts in the event that you cannot access your accounts.

As with LastPass, you will be notified immediately if there is a security breach on any of your accounts, and will also automatically reset the compromised password straight away to a strong one, so you can relax once again.

So there we have the top 3 password managers that we recommend you choose between – although, if none of these quite suit your needs, then TopTenReviews.com give a list of 7 more besides in their top 10 countdown of the best password managers. All of them vary price in accordance with their features, but in the end the choice will probably boil down to the one that you like the look of. But one thing’s for sure – you simply cannot do without a password manager in this day and age, so sign yourself up to one straight

By Igor Varnava July 15th, 2015