Data seems to be on everybody's lips these days. People are generating more than ever before, with 40 zettabytes expected to be created by 2020. It doesn't matter if you are selling to other businesses or ordinary members of the general public. Data is essential for companies and it's going to spell an era of innovation as companies attempt to balance privacy concerns with the need for more accurate targeting.

So why is data so important for companies and what's driving this new era of innovation?

Better Targeting

The number one role of data in business is better targeting. Companies are determined to spend as few advertising dollars as possible for maximum effect. This is why they are gathering data on their existing activities, making changes, and then looking at the data again to discover what they have to do.

There are so many tools available to help with this now. Nextiva Analytics is one such example of this. Based in the cloud industry, they provide customizable reports with over 225 reporting combinations. You may think this is a first, but it's become the norm. Companies are using all these diverse numbers to refine their targeting.

By targeting only people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer, you are maximizing your advertising dollars.

Knowing Your Target Audience

Every business should have an idea of who their perfect customer is and how to target them. Data can show you two things.

This is why data visualization is so important. Tomas Gorny, the Chief Executive Officer of Nextiva, said, "Nextiva Analytics provides critical data and analysis to foster growth in business of every size. Stakeholders can now view, analyze, and act like never before."

Data allows you to act on your findings in order to readjust your targeting and ensure that you are hitting the right audience again. This can't be underestimated because so many businesses are wasting their time targeting people who have little interest in what's available.

Bringing Back Other Forms of Advertising

One takeaway of data is that it's shown people that traditional forms of advertising are as relevant as ever before. In other words, they have discovered that telemarketing is back on the agenda. Companies like Nextiva have been instrumental in demonstrating this through customized reports, dashboards, and a whole host of other features.

It's meant companies can now try out these techniques. Previously, things like telemarketing were extremely unreliable because it was hard to track and make sense of the data, much less think about anything actionable.

A New World of Innovation

New ways to gather data and new metrics to track means that both the B2B and B2C business worlds are preparing to enter a new world of innovation. Businesses are going to demand more ways to track and report this data. Then they are going to want to find a clear path they can follow to actually use this data within their businesses to advertise to the right people.

But the main obstacle will be balancing customer privacy and the need to know.

Companies are going to have to tread carefully because customers are smarter than ever before. They are not going to work with a business if it's too intrusive. It may very well become a marketing issue. If you gather less data, customers may decide to choose you for that reason.

The tradeoff is that you have fewer numbers to work with. This is going to be the big challenge of the coming time. Furthermore, software providers have a major role to play in all this.

Conclusion--Big Data for Everyone

Perhaps the biggest change people are going to notice is that big data is no longer the arena of huge corporations with large amounts of resources. With companies like Nextiva offering tools for a small subscription fee per year, or a one-time fee, even small businesses can start using big data.

This is going to make it not only an advantage to be using data but a necessity. If you have not yet taken your business into the area of big data, you are missing out, and its time to change that if you are going to stay ahead of the competition.

What are your views on the role of data in business?