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Big data in the real world: how to move from buzzword to strategy?

John Sidhu | April 16, 2015
Has your business worked out its five-year big data roadmap?

Big data has become one of the most widely debated topics particularly in the past year. The market for big data will reach $16.9 billion in 2015, growing six times faster than the overall IT market, according to IDC.

With some years of experimentation and getting to grips with big data, lessons have been learned. How can enterprises now exploit the power of big data best in 2015 to support their overall business strategies?

One of the fundamental elements of data is how we use it to make decisions. We have to handle critical information all the time to help us to make better assessments. This data can be used over and over again to test these assessments, enabling us to change our decisions if necessary. It's the ability to modify these conclusions that gives organisations more agility and power. Thanks to big data analytics organisations have been able to get ahead of competitors in many ways; improving supply chains, refining products and services, adjusting pricing, cultivating more effective product promotions and improving customer retention strategies.

Where big data really comes to the fore is when it gives businesses the power to solve problems that were previously hard to tackle. This is when industry experts see where the real value of data lies.

Ecommerce

Data is crucial to almost every industry, with the data landscape becoming more complex than ever before. For those organisations operating in more data-complex scenarios, such as ecommerce providers, reducing complication is important. For instance, on travel sites there are a number of steps that customers have to go through in order to get the pricing for their holiday. There can be up to 5 million different combinations across hotels, flights, car hire, insurance, upgrade options, transfers, and so on, for just one booking.

Snapping at the heels of these travel companies are competitors, direct and indirect, ready to serve price-savvy customers. To speed the process up and help customers make decisions, some travel providers are beginning to use big data technologies to search non-complex relationships and create dynamic pricing and recommendations with a sub-second response. This helps them take advantage of taxes, fuel and exchange rates to improve their operating margin.

Consumer behaviour

How can brands use big data to better understand their customers? There is a huge amount of data on individual consumers, from behaviour to purchasing history, across a multitude of touch points. Retailers need to dissect this information to get a better insight into their customers. The problem is that as our ability to gather more information increases, so too does the complexity in gathering and analysing this information. Furthermore, there is increased consumer expectation of excellent and tailored products and services. The pressure is certainly on.

 

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