Don’t Get Whacked with a Hammer!

Abraham Maslow once wrote, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The same can be said of data. Analysts who are limited to internal sources of information don’t have the tools they need to adequately solve business problems. In my 15 years of experience as a data analyst and later as a leader of data analytics teams for HD Supply, I have seen first-hand what happens when an analyst’s view of the world is obscured. It’s easy to make plausible but incorrect assumptions about what the data is telling you. Many times the answers are available just outside your line of sight – you just need a new tool to see them. The solution? xHub. Capitalizing on xOverTime’s Microsoft Excel®-enabled cloud database, the xHub solution gives analysts instant access to public sources, other third party information, or your own company’s siloed data. Imagine what you could learn from quickly combining your business’ data with that of the World Wide Web of data. Let me share a couple of examples: NOAA Weather Data The impact of major weather events like tornados, hurricanes and droughts are well understood by many companies, but it seemed as though we at HD Supply were missing opportunities to anticipate the needs of our customers. We knew that typical weather changes must also be impacting our customers’ buying behavior, perhaps in ways that weren’t as obvious as needing a snow shovel before a blizzard. Using the xHub NOAA Weather Source, we correlated daily maximum temperature with product sales per day. What we found was enlightening and resulted in a five percent increase in incremental sales. US Census Bureau Population Demographics When embarking upon the building of a predictive model, analysts typically focus on detecting sales patterns that lead to the customer behavior in question. This approach makes sense, but you may be surprised to see how your model’s accuracy can be improved by including demographics from the US Census Bureau. That was my experience at HD Supply. Via xHub’s Census Bureau connection, we incorporated the population’s level of education by ZIP Code into our customer churn prediction model. The additional information resulted in a seven percent increase in precision. Here are my top four reasons for why you should choose xHub as your next analytical tool. 1. There’s no learning curve. xHub plugs right into Excel and it’s easy to use. Simply start typing “= xHub” like any other function. 2. No need to worry about maintaining a huge dataset of third party data. xOverTime establishes connections and keeps the data in the cloud. 3. Batteries are included! xHub comes with NOAA Weather and US Census connectors right out of the box. New custom connectors can be created from any data source with an API. 4. Data stays where it belongs. xHub tightly integrates with your existing enterprise software platforms. Analysts can access data as needed directly from the source of truth where it stays fresh and up to date. The xHub solution capitalizes on xOverTime’s Microsoft Excel®-enabled cloud database that helps business users collaborate and manage data to drive business decisions. Don’t restrict your analytics to only that within your limited business view. If that’s all you’ve got, you just might get whacked with a hammer. To learn more about broadening your insights with xHub, call 844-968-9684 or click here. ___ About our guest contributor Jason Smith: Jason Smith is a thought leader with nearly two decades of experience in market research and data analytics. He is an independent consultant and Senior Manager of Customer Insights & Analytics with HD Supply, a Fortune 500 company and leading nationwide supplier of maintenance, repair, and operations products. Connect with him on LinkedIn here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Jason Smith and do not represent in any way those of HD Supply, Inc.

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