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In my last blog post, I outlined five ways that the Internet of Things (IoT) can help retailers drive down costs and how to get started. In addition to improving operational efficiencies, IoT is also offering real transformative opportunities to increase sales by building a stronger customer experience.

The most promising technology trend enabling these opportunities is advanced analytics, the process by which organizations can translate data into intelligent action.

So you may be wondering why I think advanced analytics is so promising and what’s changed? Business intelligence and the use of data to make decisions isn’t new. Which is certainly true.

But what is changing the game and fueling new and exciting opportunities in the business analytics field is cloud computing and important advancements in machine learning.

With the advent of unlimited computing capacity in the cloud and advanced analytics capabilities, retailers now have the ability to combine their massive amounts of differing types of data together—from proprietary, structured data like a loyalty program, to unstructured data like customer reviews or social media posts, to in-store monitoring of customer behavior, to external factors like weather—and examine it in intelligent ways to find patterns, forecast and make predictions, and tell you how to solve a problem.

This is what’s unlocking new doors for retailers to do some really exciting things not possible before—to predict what might happen, what should happen, and the best ways to optimize results to help retailers better understand how to sell more of a product, predict what a customer wants, ensure the right level of inventory and assortment is available, and create a personalized and seamless experience, no matter where the customer shops.

Understanding advanced analytics

To keep pace with customers who want more personalized shopping experiences across devices, today’s advanced analytics solutions now offer retailers a path to create the service that customers wants, where they want it, resulting in better customer retention, improved sales performance and competitive advantage.

IDC reports that by 2017, retail companies that take advantage of their data have the potential to raise an additional $94 billion in revenue over companies that don’t.

So how do retailers feel about their ability to harness advanced analytics?

Microsoft recently surveyed more than 200 retail and hospitality business leaders and found that while more than 75 percent reported they have a good understanding of advanced analytics, they identified four key challenges to harnessing its potential—and reaping the rewards: processes, internal buy-in, data inadequacy, and training of employees.

We understand these challenges and want to make it easier to get the most from your retail data with the right foundation of data analytics solutions.

In a new on-demand webinar, I talk more about these survey trends, best practices and the tools you can use to capitalize on advanced analytics. I also share real-world examples of how companies like McDonald’s, Pier 1 Imports, and Arca Continental are using these solutions to boost their business and customer experiences.

I also encourage you to download and check out our free e-Book: Understanding Advanced Analytics to Build a Stronger Customer Experience. It will give you a deeper understanding of the most frequent challenges to expect (and overcome) in your journey to advanced analytics.

LinkedIn: ShiSh Shridhar

Twitter: @5h15h