Taking a closer look at what’s driving business to embrace Big Data and how to get started today
Big Data is a growing concern in the rapidly evolving technology and Cloud space, yet for many companies there is difficulty in getting the answer to the important questions: ‘How can I use Big Data?’ and ‘How will it help my business?’ Continuing our 2016 Outlook series, let’s look at Big Data and investigate how Big Data could transform your business in 2016.
Using Big Data for your business
For simplicity’s sake let’s look at Big Data as a large pool of data coming from a variety of sources that an organisation receives on a daily basis. The volume of data isn’t actually the key consideration for a business, but rather the insights and intelligence they glean from it that helps drive smarter business decisions. So we can look at Big Data as the way businesses take mass amounts of data, dive into that data and pull out conclusions around customer behaviour, purchasing history, preferences and much more. Then using this intelligence, businesses and their marketing, inventory and operations teams can make business changes that deliver efficiencies, drive customer loyalty and increase sales. So it’s easy to see why Big Data has excited so many people in the digital, marketing and eCommerce spaces.
The key to getting started
It’s best to think about Big Data as a long-term project, demanding strategy and structural transformation. The first step in your Big Data journey is making sure that key stakeholders know what data is required to plan your long-term business strategy. Then you’ll most likely look at bringing Data Scientists into your organisation, capable of understanding what this flood of data means and deciphering how it fits into your long-term business strategy. From there, the Data Scientists can work with your business to check the quality of data and the conclusions drawn. Following this, the business can begin to execute its strategy using these results, monitor the data in real-time, make continuing amendments based on feedback and then experiment to drive the success of the business strategy.
Customer insights and inventory management
It’s worth exploring some potential uses for Big Data that help underline its importance. Foremost among the benefits is the potential it offers for Marketers and eCommerce Managers. Big Data means you can gain real insights into how individual customers interact with your business. From products they buy consistently, products they’re interested in but haven’t committed to and analysing sentiment across your customers. This can all be used to refine and improve your product and service offering. In essence: why they buy what they buy and what they might buy if you offer it to them in the right way. Another exciting area for innovation is inventory management, where Big Data analytics helps businesses remove internal bottlenecks, provides insight into customer demand so you can cater for seasonal peaks and troughs and in turn maximises sales while reducing sunk costs across inventory, maintenance and hardware.
How do businesses actually use Big Data?
Let’s look a couple of examples of how businesses could use Big Data to influence customer behaviour. A bank could see that a customer has booked a flight overseas. Using this intelligence, the bank could send targeted communications by SMS, email and mail around travel expenses, pre-paid travel cards through the bank, locations of their ATMs and affiliated banks overseas, information on loans or tips on paying off debt quickly post-trip. All this intelligence derived from Big Data means a bank can offer a tailored experience to their customer and foster a closer relationship. Another example of using Big Data could be a fast food chain targeting customers when there is bad weather, at specific times of day a customer has previously ordered food or when widespread power outages means people won’t be able to cook. Big Data allows an Agile approach to bespoke customer communication where you can reach out to repeat customers in situations where they’re most likely to want to buy your products and services.
Big Data for everyone
While the term Big Data may sound intimidating and seem like it’s solely the remit of Enterprise organisations, the reality is that disruptors and challengers could (and should) be using Big Data. For smaller companies, Big Data can help with website analytics and performance, to garner insights into website clicks, time spent on each page and much more. The reality is that you can analyse anything that generates data, from your website through to sentiment about your company on social media. For disruptors and challengers the key is to capture the relevant data and value it appropriately. From there, businesses can use a host of Big Data technologies and start to generate tangible returns.
With Big Data, the potential is there to turn a torrent of customer information into actionable insights and real profits. As with any project, due diligence and careful planning are key to ensuring Big Data helps drive customer loyalty, increased spending and smarter internal processes. With the right foundations in place, Big Data can help create repeat customers, entrench their loyalty and drive business innovation along the way.
Are you looking to make Big Data a reality in 2016? What’s driving the initiative for your business?