It’s very easy to assume that any new term that emerges in the tech world will just be a buzzword, with no real significance to anything of use. For the past couple of years the term ‘Big Data’ has often been labelled as such, but with plenty of corporate enterprises now on board with big data analytics, it’s time for those two words to shed any connotations of inflated bombast and for the rest of us to start taking note. Big data is changing the world of business, and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Indeed, big data is getting bigger. That is of course its nature, but the point being that the value of the information buried amongst it all is becoming of increasingly reachable use in the business world. It is changing the shape of internet marketing on a global scale, and below is a list of the key areas in which big data is already making an impact on our lives today (even if we’re not yet fully aware of it).
Expanding Customer Intelligence
The internet can be a faceless entity, a factor that is perhaps most noticeable in the world of ecommerce. Customer relations can all but disappear in a company with thousands upon thousands (even millions) of online shoppers, and indeed, picking out exactly who the most valuable customers are in such a vast congregation has been an almost impossible task.
But big data is changing all that. How? Well, big data doesn’t just look at one source of data in analysing customer trends and preferences, as has been the case in the past. Instead it utilises all the information that can possibly be gathered from a company’s social media data, browser logs, sensor data and text analytics to get a fuller picture of their customers – the purpose of which being, primarily, to produce predictive models.
The sheer wealth of data being collated and analysed from innumerable sources is now being exploited so that companies can now predict – often with staggering accuracy – all sorts of information about their existing and potential customers, and they can then focus their marketing efforts in an extremely individualised manner.
For example, as Bernard Marr reports, Wall-Mart can predict what products will sell, car insurance companies can determine how well their clients actually drive, and Telecom companies can predict customer churn. Indeed, by looking at customers’ spending habits, retailers like Target have been able to accurately predict when one of their customers is expecting a baby – it even managed to do it before the baby’s father did (Mail Online).
Optimizing Business Processes
One of the most innovative and useful ways that big data is now being used in business is in the optimization of stock, based on the predictions that are generated from web search trends, social media and even weather forecasts. With a more accurate detail of stock investment, companies are cutting down on waste and the need to flog off excess merchandise at reduced rates (and therefore reduced profits).
What is more is that the supply chain can be alerted in advance as to what will be needed, where and when. Indeed, even the delivery route can be optimised using big data. Radio frequency identification and geographic positioning are used to track delivery vehicles and their goods, and then, by using live traffic data, the routes are optimised for the most speedy and safe delivery.
Big data is finding a lot of use in High Frequency Trading (HFT). The development of algorithmic trading is being guided by the growing ability to analyse massive amounts of market data generated both internally and externally. The speed at which decisions can be made about the associated risks of any trading decision is minimised to a microsecond, as algorithms instantaneously analyse big data marketing trends and movements and return clean and clear information that is used to predict what is going to happen next. Indeed, it is now the majority of equity trading that is taking place via data algorithms. These are increasingly taking into account all big data and signals from news websites and social networks so that buy and sell decisions can be made in the blink of an eye, with risk significantly reduced.
The big data revolution is upon us and in full swing. It is changing the way companies target their customers and market their products. Almost any pop-up ad that appears on your desktop whilst browsing at home or at work would have been tailored for you using big data analytics. But within the actual day-to-day functionalities of a business is where big data is also being used to optimise every step of the process, from production to packaging to purchase. This, along with the high stakes attainable at the sharp end of financial trading is what is going to produce the biggest changes in the business world. As processes, supply chains and production lines are increasingly optimised, business capitals will grow, making those high end deals more lucrative than ever.