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Big Data jumps to the cloud

Maria Korolov | July 9, 2013
Big Data-as-a-Service offers quick, inexpensive, targeted analytics

A thousand point solutions of light
Most large enterprise vendors have general-purpose Big Data analytics, but specialized vendors are springing up with focused solutions that address just one part of the Big Data puzzle.

They tend to tackle the lowest-hanging Big Data fruit, are fast and inexpensive to deploy, and have easy-to-use dashboards or fit themselves easily into existing corporate workflows.

Take MaintenanceNet, a cloud-based analytics vendor that serves a very specific audience technology companies that want to get more revenue out of their maintenance and support plan sales. Comstor, a networking equipment distributor, saw a 30% gain in its overall service business last year from higher renewal rates and overall growth as a result of its use of MaintenanceNet's analytics platform.

"Until the metrics and data can be accessible, a lot of your intuition and assumptions prove to be inaccurate," says Chris Fender, Comstor's director of service sales. What made the cloud-based service particularly attractive for Comstor was the ability to expand the tool to the hundreds of resellers who are its partners.

"If we needed to deploy technology, hardware or software, to the partners' premises, it would be very costly and challenging to manage from an IT perspective," Fender says. "It's a type of application that is really only feasible in a cloud-based environment."

One fast-growing segment is that of website analytics. Google Analytics provides a set of traffic data points for free, but it won't tell you, say, how old visitors' kids are. That's one of the answers that analytics vendor Sailthru provided to Totsy, an online retailer specializing in sales to women with young children.

"Sailthru's Big Data approach meant that we could use her browsing behavior to infer what ages she tended to shop for and in what categories," says Totsy CEO Lisa Kennedy. "We've seen this provide meaningful lift in both click-through and conversion while being operationally simple to execute."

Deployment is easy because all customers have to do is add a little snippet of code to their websites.

Another easy-to-deploy tool is marketing analysis from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Convertro. It takes a few minutes to install the code. The company doesn't just look at website behavior, but also pulls in information from media companies and other channels to find out how effective a particular advertisement or marketing channel actually was.

Online men's clothing retailer Indochino used Convertro to figure out when a mobile visitor was the same person who had earlier come in via a browser on a personal computer.

"The big piece is being able to associate that individual as one individual," says Antonio Guzman, the company's manager of digital marketing. "We're also interested in understanding which channels really drive influence and purchase behaviors or other behaviors we're interested in."


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