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Data is everything in business. It helps companies understand their customers better, make smarter business decisions, and is a primary driver of growth. That’s why companies routinely invest in data analysts to help steer them in the right direction. Data analysts have great job security, make good money, and get to solve challenging problems all the time. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the Best Jobs in America according to Glassdoor.

Whether you’d like to climb the career ladder or start your own company, having data analysis skills can be a huge boon. The Complete Big Data & Power BI Bundle can set you off on the right foot.

This five-course, 30-hour bundle focuses on some of the top data management and analysis tools on the market today, all from Microsoft. Over these courses, you’ll delve into Microsoft Excel, Access, and Power BI, giving you a comprehensive overview of how to work with massive amounts of data.

The courses are brought to you by Simon Sez IT, one of the leading online IT training organizations. Founded in 2008 by Chris “Simon” Calder, formerly the Director of IT operations for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Simon Sez IT has since trained thousands of employees and individuals in IT concepts.

Across these courses, you’ll take a beginner-to-intermediate dive into each specific skill. You’ll learn how to create and perform complex analysis in Power BI in just a few clicks, use advanced Excel functions like Power Pivot, Power Query, and DAX, and create an efficient, well-managed database in Access.

There is really no downside to learning to work with and analyze data like a pro. Whether you want to start a new career or get better at what you currently do, these skills will help. The Complete Big Data & Power BI Bundle is on sale now for just $39.99.

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© 2020 Fortune Media IP Limited. All Rights Reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell My Info | Ad Choices 
FORTUNE is a trademark of Fortune Media IP Limited, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.
Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html.
S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions. | CA Notice at Collection and Privacy Notice

Business Achievement Awards

© 2020 Fortune Media IP Limited. All Rights Reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (Your California Privacy Rights) | CCPA Do Not Sell My Information | Ad Choices 
FORTUNE is a trademark of Fortune Media IP Limited, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.
Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html.
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7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In the mad rush to adapt to the new normal imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many business leaders realized something about their businesses that is both enlightening and disheartening: They do not work efficiently.

No doubt, they knew this before — especially those that were left flat-footed when the move to the digital-first accelerated. But it took the disruption of the pandemic and the sudden requirements to be all-remote and to optimize for online for these companies to feel the weight of the dual anvils of inefficient processes and outdated technologies they have been carrying. 

Some business leaders now recognize that they must let go of these anvils if they are to thrive post-COVID — the next new normal. If you’re among them, you should revisit your tools, technologies, processes and people operations. The starting point for your upward trajectory? Data. 

Take control of your unstructured data.

Data is the foundation of a digital-first business. This fact was true before the pandemic, but it is crucial to understand in the post-COVID world. There is increased pressure on most companies to provide accurate, engaging content that’s ready for consumption — either directly or by web channel partners.

But many businesses aren’t investing enough, or at all, in their data. Their data remains hidden in dispersed files and legacy systems. And most of their unstructured data — which includes images, videos and documents — is hard-to-impossible to access as organizing has generally been a labor-intensive, manual process.

Related: Why Digital Transformation Is An Effective Crisis Response

This inaccessibility is unfortunate as these data elements can help companies create standout online presences that could compete with dominant ecommerce sites. Companies that can leverage their data can pivot from brick-and-mortar sales to ecommerce for the COVID-19 world — PepsiCo’s new direct-to-consumer offerings, e.g.

Invest in practical artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Another trend that works against efforts to get digitally ready is the postponement of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects, perhaps due to a misconception that these are science projects with uncertain or non-measurable ROI. 

But shelving such investments would be a serious mistake for many businesses. A new class of practical AI solutions has put data scientist-caliber power into the hands of business leaders and creatives. These users, or data citizens, can now model data and generate insights.

Practical AI and ML solutions can make businesses more resilient by helping them address these data challenges: 

  1. Accessing data no matter where it resides — across multiple cloud storage file systems or in dedicated silos — and putting it into a structured format so it can be used in operations or analysis. 
  2. Collecting all data so that everyone can efficiently and effectively work with it. 
  3. Providing everyone the chance to learn from the data so they can create new analyses and processes that add value. 

Technologies like AI and ML can also help businesses solve another critical data problem: how to manage, and make the most of, rapidly growing repositories of unstructured data including videos and images. Using horizontal data found in various silos will be crucial for companies innovating from the inside out.  

Build workflows to do more with less.

Because of the explosion of crowdsourced content and the desire to reuse assets to maximize their value, companies need to prioritize AI and ML technologies. This is also why they should adopt a data-forward mindset. As you begin to understand your data better, you can automate more processes with better accuracy — and enable more efficient workflows overall.

It’s time for business leaders to think seriously about how they can harness and unleash their unstructured data. They need to surface attributes and data elements across repositories to make that content more accessible, usable and reusable. Then they can gain a complete picture of their data. These insights, in turn, will show them how well certain elements are performing so they can put these data elements to work for them optimizing customer experiences and outcomes. 

Related: Learn Today’s Top Data Analysis Tools, Microsoft Excel, and Power BI with This $35 Bundle

As an example, consider a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company. This company uses AI and ML to surface and connect information about its products, formulas, packaging, campaigns, sales and more. With all these disparate data sources available and accessible to key teams such as product development and marketing, specific questions can be answered — including some that may redefine what an external-facing product is, compared to an internal-facing stock keeping unit (SKU).

Today’s buyers want to know not just the size and look of a product, but also what goes into it. They want to learn from a quick search if a product has allergens or organic ingredients. They also want to be able to search across products, regions, images and related categories. 

Vendors, like the CPG company in this example, are responsible for making sure all the correct product data — the current ingredients, copy in local languages, relevant images, videos of its usage and more — gets to these partners. Automating that process and using AI for the meta-tagging of the elements that define the product enable the rapid posting of product content to all channels. It also reduces manual intervention by the teams aggregating this information. 

The use of AI can reduce errors and rework by ensuring the right materials are surfaced to the proper channels and enriched with the most compelling and effective assets for each partner and set of markets. This is critically important for CPG businesses operating in the COVID-19 world that need to please their customers, work with online channels, and protect their bottom line — all while employing fewer resources.

Go ahead, disrupt your business a little more.

Business leaders should consider implementing any practical AI and ML initiatives that can increase their organization’s digital readiness. Wise business leaders will make these projects strategic priorities. And, for their companies’ long-term survival, these leaders should further disrupt the already upended status quo in their organization. 

Related: Making Machine Learning Accessible: 3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Apply It Today

That’s a scary prospect in this time of uncertainty when there is a natural tendency to cling to what feels safe and familiar. But when company leaders proactively disrupt the status quo, they can then:

  • Rethink and enhance internal processes, including the reduction of manual work, the streamlining of other activities and optimizing ecommerce operations.
  • Improve how their teams work with the aid of automation and investing in AI and ML that can help reduce silos, improve collaboration, increase transparency and make data more accessible.
  • Empower their people by equipping them with tools that can put the most accurate and complete data at everyone’s fingertips fast, creating a tech-savvy workforce staffed by highly efficient and productive data citizens who will drive innovation.

By taking these steps, business leaders can abandon those dual anvils of inefficient processes and technologies and position themselves for future successes. They can unlock the full power of all the data they already own and use it to surface new insights, make better decisions more quickly, provide personalized customer experiences and help their teams work more efficiently. By removing those obstacles that impede and frustrate their teams, they can unleash their workers’ full potential — the key to thriving in the next normal.

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Cybercriminals could trace your device or access sensitive personal data through contact-tracing apps built for the coronavirus pandemic, a new report says.

In a report released Thursday, cybersecurity firm Check Point noted that U.S. developers are working on contact tracing apps that measure Bluetooth signal strength to detect the distance between device users. The basic idea is, if two devices are close enough, within 6 feet, an infected user could potentially transmit the virus. If somebody is infected, other app users would be notified and could self-quarantine and get tested.

GPS can also be used to determine location. This approach allows health authorities to analyze the geography of the infection spread and take preventative measures. MIT’s SafePaths app, for example, uses GPS technology.

IRS WARNS ON CONTINUING COVID-19 SCAMS, AS $30B IN STIMULUS PAYMENTS COULD BE STOLEN

Checkpoint researchers laid out a number of concerns about the apps, including issues with the following:

  • Bluetooth: If not implemented correctly, hackers can trace a person’s device by matching devices and the “identification packets” they send out.
  • GPS: If GPS is used, it can give away sensitive information, revealing where users are traveling and their location during previous days or weeks.
  •  Personal data: Apps store contact logs, encryption keys and other sensitive data on devices. This data could be vulnerable if not encrypted and stored in the application “sandbox.”
  • There is also a danger that identity could be exposed if phone number, name or other identifying data is associated with a tracing app.

“The jury is still out on how safe contact tracing apps are. After initial review, we have some serious concerns,” Jonathan Shimonovich, Manager of Mobile Research at Check Point, said in a statement.

“Contact tracing apps must maintain a delicate balance between privacy and security, since poor implementation of security standards may put users’ data at risk,” he added.

YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD AFTER THIS SHOCKING STUDY

Google and Apple made news in April when they announced a framework based on Bluetooth for registration of contact events. Each device generates keys to send to nearby devices and the devices store the contact IDs locally.

According to the framework, if a user decides to report a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 to their app, they will be added to the positive diagnosis list – managed by a public health authority – so that other users who came into range of the infected person’s Bluetooth “beacons” can be alerted.

Check Point has offered some pointers on how you can protect yourself from exposing your data:

  • Install apps from reputable stores only such as the App Store and Google Play Store. Those stores only allow authorized government agencies to publish such apps.
  • Use mobile security: install mobile security software to scan applications and protect the device against malware. 

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