The evolution of technology has resulted in a multitude of new channels for businesses to connect with consumers. Whilst this can only be seen as a good thing, according to the IDC, in 2012 the total amount of digital information in the world will come to 2.7 zettabytes – a 48% increase from 2011 – forcing companies to think about having both the right technology and analysts to turn this into an opportunity rather than a burden.

If captured, managed and mined correctly, data and specifically real time data, can provide a valuable opportunity for businesses to target their audience with relevant products, services and opportunities.

Indeed it can tell us whether a visitor is new or returning, what they’ve done on the site on previous visits, what products/services they’ve previously shown a high or low level interest in, what campaigns they’ve been exposed to and so on. Businesses can then use this to serve a personalised experience which best captures the attention of that individual and drives conversion.

An important point to note is data needs to be captured and analysed as near to real time as possible if it is to provide businesses with the insight needed to make decisions and better inform their strategy. It’s no good analysing a campaign success weeks into the launch, businesses need to see what is and isn’t working as early as possible so they can rectify any problems before it’s too late.

According to the Econsultancy Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing – Digital Trends for 2012, 77% of companies say real-time insights with 80% accuracy are much more important than getting 100% accuracy in three months’ time. This further highlights the fact data doesn’t necessarily need to be exactly right, it simply needs to give a good enough indication of what is happening at that exact time so businesses can refine their strategy or campaign accordingly.

So how can businesses go about capturing data? Previously individuals have been employed to manually crunch data using slow and disparate tools. The endless amounts of data created by search, social and websites, however is pushing businesses to invest in integrated technology which not only lets them analyse data in real time but also leverage the vast amount of historical data to predict future results. Through this insight, businesses can then identify what aspect of a campaign will have the most positive effect on revenue and in turn deliver the best possible ROI.

Having found out through independent research that 23% of internet visitors were accessing websites through a mobile device, Carphone Warehouse decided to prioritise its mobile marketing strategy. Using the right software it was able to gain deeper understanding of its mobile customer behaviours, quickly identify the activities that were yielding returns and those that weren’t so they could make informed decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets.

For example, they learned that online visitors behave differently when they are using a mobile device as keying in information is harder, users make more spelling errors and they enter fewer search terms. Using this insight into mobile users’ behaviours on their website, Carphone Warehouse was able to optimise its mobile strategy to improve customer engagement which resulted in it generating a whole new revenue stream on mobile sales.