We live in an age of big data. In fact, data volume is exploding; the last two years alone have generated more storable information than the entirety of prior human history. When analyzed and used correctly, this data can tell your business more about your audience, competitive environment, and forecasted success than you ever thought possible. But the sheer volume tends to be an insurmountable hurdle for organizations of all sizes and across industries.
Fortunately, software solutions are beginning to catch up. Find the right platform, and you can prioritize, analyze, and visualize data for more actionable purposes and real-time data-backed decision making. Microsoft’s cloud platform offers a number of services that aim to help businesses accomplish just that. Here are our 10 favorite Azure services solutions to enhance your data analytics operations.
1) Stream Analytics
Stream Analytics is on-demand. You don’t pay until you actually run a job. As a result, it scales seamlessly in its core function: allowing you to transform the giant stream of data from countless connected devices and sensors into actionable insights.
The beauty of stream analytics is its scalability. Those unfamiliar with the concept will be able to take advantage of the platform’s simple, declarative SQL base. Advanced enterprises, meanwhile, can customize the base to scale up the work, all while remaining in compliance with all major regulations.
2) Data Lake Analytics
Traditionally, analytics requires extensive infrastructure. Physical or virtual devices have to communicate with each other to produce analysis and insights that can actually be used for business improvement. Data Lake Analytics negates that need. The platform’s description speaks for itself:
Process big data jobs in seconds with Azure Data Lake Analytics. There is no infrastructure to worry about because there are no servers, virtual machines, or clusters to wait for, manage, or tune. Instantly scale the processing power, measured in Azure Data Lake Analytics Units (AU), from one to thousands for each job. You only pay for the processing that you use per job.
3) Data Catalog
In a world of big data, finding the data points you’re looking for can amount to the proverbial needle in a haystack. What if you could find a software platform that helps you more easily catalog and organize the information you need to make better business decisions?
As its name suggests, that’s the core value proposition provided by Data Catalog. Register your assets, disrupt data silos, and connect it with the tools you need for analysis and insights. In the process, you can bridge the gap between your data operations and executive decision making. Insights and decisions both become more organic and valuable as a result.
4) Log Analytics
Log data is among the most powerful information your business can gather, helping you discover event regularities and irregularities. At the same time, capturing the log data from numerous devices, platforms, and operating systems can quickly amount to an impossibility.
Log Analytics exists specifically to change that fact. It allows you to centralize your log data into a single store, which in turn amplifies your analytics capabilities. The platform even comes with its own visualization and dashboarding capabilities that allow businesses to focus on the queries that matter most and formulate intuitive, automated responses.
5) Text Analytics API
Especially in marketing and growing your business, you need to know what your audience actually thinks about you. But how can you analyze customer interactions and sentiments at scale? Text Analytics APIpromises to deliver an intuitive, interactive solution.
The tool can intuitively estimate the sentiment of any text to be analyzed. It pulls out key phrases, helping to build a word cloud of most common comments and concerns. Finally, it can dynamically detect the language of the text to give you more information about your audience. Combine these benefits, and you get a real-time tool that makes even large volumes of written text easy to analyze.
6) Dynamics 365 For Customer Insights
Like Text Analytics API, Azure’s Customer Insights tool (built on its Dynamics 365 CRM platform) is invaluable for helping you better understand your core audiences. Its value proposition is simple: connect any customer-based sources to turn data into insights.
As a result, customer insights allows you to scale your customer-centric data operations. The platform also includes pre-built KPIs, meaning that even smaller businesses will be able to easily collect and analyze relevant customer data. By understanding your audience’s needs, and tracking their customer journey, you will be able to make better marketing and sales decisions to grow your business.
7) Azure Analysis Services
Microsoft’s Analysis Services, in many ways, is the engine that makes some of the above tools function optimally together. Without having to manage a physical or virtualized infrastructure, businesses are able to collect data, analyze it in real-time and drive actionable decisions based on the collected and analyzed information.
As the product overview highlights, this type of data management allows your business to easily get to “one version of the truth.” Analysis service prevents data silos, instead developing an integrated network that improves data discovery and analytics. All of that is possible within Azure’s quick setup and seamlessly scalable platform.
8) Data Factory
Successful data science, at least in part, requires transformation. Raw information has to be curated into digestible, actionable bits of data most relevant to your decision making process. The processes of collection, preparation, and analysis all have to be streamlined into a single transformation activity.
That’s the process Data Factory provides. It allows businesses to pull together their data from multiple sources, both on-premise and cloud-based. Visualization and monitoring are additional benefits that this comprehensive infrastructure tool brings with it. Customers from Real Madrid to Pier 1 Imports have been able to take advantage of this platform, and its many benefits.
9) Machine Learning Studio
What if we told you that, thanks to Azure, predictive analytics becomes a reality for businesses of all sizes? Thanks to the company’s Machine Learning Studio, that’s nothing short of the truth.
Within minutes, users can create and modify algorithms that dynamically analyze data, discover trends, and predict outcomes. An intuitive, visual interface allows data scientists without prior knowledge of machine learning to get started almost immediately.
10) Power BI Embedded
Analyzing data is great, but might not lead to much if you don’t also prioritize presenting that data. Only the most in-the-woods data scientists will actually understand the pure streams and warehouses developed by the above services.
Power BI Embedded brings it all together by allowing you to visualize the data, create real-time dashboards. It interacts seamlessly with your Azure-backed data operations to ensure accuracy and speed in display.
Implementing Azure Services for Better Data Science
All of these Azure services have one thing in common: they help your business better collect, organize, analyze, and present the data needed to make better decisions and grow. But of course, you still need to implement these platforms in your operations flow to maximize their effectiveness. Theoretical benefits matter little if you cannot practically apply them to your business operations.
That’s where we step in. Our extensive experience with Microsoft Azure positions us uniquely to partner with you in integrating Microsoft’s powerful data tools into your business. Contact us to learn more about our services, and to get started on a potential partnership.