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What can ‘smart data discovery’ do for your SMB?

See how SMBs can capitalize on advanced analytics without expert assistance.

Thanks to a new technology called smart data discovery, even small businesses can get valuable insights from big data.

First, a quick recap of how we got here. Big data analytics has been hyped as the next big thing for quite a few years now. In 2011, EMC released a study calling data scientists “rock stars.” A year later, Harvard Business Review ran a column titled "Data scientist: sexiest job of the 21st century."

So here we are. Data scientists are in such high demand – and such short supply – that they’ve taken on mythical unicorn status. A 2015 McKinsey study predicted there would be a shortage of up to 190,000 data specialists (not just data scientists) by 2018 in the U.S. alone. Estimates like that make the odds of attracting this elusive high-priced talent seem especially slim for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

That may be changing, however.

Finding the unicorn

Smart data discovery boils down huge volumes of complex data patterns into information that non-data scientists can understand, sometimes through user-friendly tools like graphics, spreadsheets or dashboards.

As noted by Gartner researchers, smart data discovery “provides insights from advanced analytics to business users or citizen data scientists without requiring them to have traditional data scientist expertise.” According to Business News Daily, it not only democratizes access to big data insights but “transform(s) them into stories that humans can understand.”

How it’s changing CRM

Smart data discovery could be a game-changer for customer relationship management (CRM) in particular, and Salesforce has quickly recognized that.

Last year the company embedded the capabilities of its Einstein artificial intelligence (AI) platform into all Salesforce CRM solutions. As the CRM system acquires more data patterns, it ‘learns’ over time, offering increasingly predictive and customized experiences to businessesEinstein Salesforce CRM using the Salesforce CRM.

Einstein does this based on data from Salesforce CRM features like Chatter, email, calendars, e-commerce transactions and social media activity. As for data democratization, Salesforce says Einstein’s insights will be accessible to “all (customer) service employees… whether it is the agent supervisor or mobile worker in the field.”

For example, Salesforce says Einstein can provide contact centre supervisors with real-time analytics about “agent availability, queues and wait times… predict customer satisfaction and make specific recommendations to improve customer satisfaction.”

Advancements in Canada

Here in Canada, Toronto-based company SalesChoice is working to make CRM data even more user-friendly. Last fall it launched Selly Says, a CRM tool with Salesforce’s Einstein AI baked right into it. Instead of imparting data insights to business users through notifications or visual alerts, however, Selly Says uses natural language processing to engage them in a conversation. SalesChoice describes it as a Siri-like coaching tool for sales pros.

SalesChoice gives a sampler of how Selly Says ‘talks’ to a salesperson about data-based information: “I can see that you have been spending your time chasing these four sales cycles, and they are not priced in the range to win. Here are the three cycles that look relevant to what you are trying to do. Click here…”

These are just two examples of how smart data discovery can make deep, predictive, personalized data insights more accessible and affordable for CRM purposes. It’s allowing businesses of every size to fine-tune their customer experiences, even if they can’t afford to hire a data scientist rock star.

Up Next: Learn what else intelligent tech can do for your business in What you need to know about 'machine learning'

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Christine Wong

Christine Wong is a journalist based in Toronto who has covered a wide range of startups and technology issues. A former staff writer with, she has also worked as a reporter for the Canadian Economic Press and in broadcast roles at SliceTV and the CBC.

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