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Visualise your data; be part of customer journey

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Organisations need to have a holistic view of their business to truly maximise the value of their data and analytics, writes RICHARD MULLINS, Director at Acceleration Middle East and Africa.

Most organisations today are taking a more data-driven approach to everything from sales and marketing to operations and human resources. Yet few of them have the real-time reporting information or the integrated, holistic view of their businesses that they need to truly maximise the value of their data and analytics.

In many organisations, it can take six weeks or more to receive reports in a format that anyone in the business can understand with a glance—based on data that might already be out of date. What’s more, data often sits in siloes scattered across the enterprise; even where consolidated reports are available, they may exclude many parts of the business.

The result is that the sales team may have data on hand about orders placed and fulfilled as well as inventory levels, yet little insight into how marketing has helped to achieve conversions or how many complaints the service team is fielding about a particular product line. Distribution and production might have sales forecasts, but no data about customer satisfaction.

Bringing it all together

The marketing department, meanwhile, may be happy with its brand health tracking, ad reports, social media monitoring and web analytics, yet struggle to accurately attribute the impact of marketing spending on sales. Indeed, few marketing departments can yet model the impact of different channels and touchpoints on customer conversions.

Thus, one of the largest challenges that organisations face in becoming more data-driven is to bring data together from different systems across and within departments to provide the big picture about how customer behaviour, sales, branding and marketing efforts, production, customer service and other facets of the business interact to drive sales and profits.

It is here where the latest data visualisation tools can play an important role, allowing executives to turn the data from different systems, channels and departments into purpose-built dashboards that offer a view of how their business is doing. They provide visual cues of the customer journey that spans from finance to operations to sales and marketing.

New insights unlocked

Suddenly, new insights are unlocked for everyone in the business. Consider a car manufacturer and its dealer network as an example. With access to richer data from production and sales, marketers can begin to really optimise performance. They can see how sales of the new car model are performing by region, perhaps gaining insight into how well regional marketing and advertising activations are working.

It becomes possible to get a view of how online customer engagements are bringing people into the showroom as well as the halo effect traditional branding advertising has on sales. Sales and marketing can correlate a dip in customer satisfaction (reflected in negative social sentiment and complaints to dealers and the call centre) with a drop in sales. They can look into inventory and fulfilment data to see whether a colour or model going out of stock has hurt sales.

Getting to this level of insight demands some level of data consolidation, standardisation of data formats and effort to clean and de-duplicate dirty data. With robust data governance and a sound data architecture, data visualisation tools can provide a common ‘truth’ that can be shared throughout the business—from the marketing team to the CEO.

Visual dashboards and reports can be shared and discussed between various disciplines, enabling better strategies and cross functional collaboration. These tools can automate the process of pulling data from different sources into a single view, allowing different users to customise the dimensions, metrics and segments that matter to them.

A process-driven approach

It takes a process-driven yet agile approach, focusing on answering the right questions with relevant and accurate data. In our experience, when C-suite executives start digging into the wealth of data the rest of the organisation has, they start small but soon find they need more and more data sources to answer the new questions their initial queries raise.

The result is better customer knowledge, engagements and experiences, used to craft strategies that grow the business. The results: a full understanding of the customer journeys, from pre-purchase to post-sales. This can help marketers craft engaging experiences that secure conversions and drive profitable business growth.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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