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January 1, 2014

Author: Venugopal Chepur

Big data, aha!

Big data means more information – more information with the additional objective of providing it at a greater speed than before. We already complain that we suffer from too much data and while failing to use it effectively. So, big data alone isn’t necessarily the answer to a more successful outcome. There are many challenges with big data. But the key is the speed to act on results – infer business implications, fix problems, and monetize opportunities, swiftly. Previously, the results from data used to be available like old-fashioned university exam results that would be seen after a few weeks or months. Today, online technology allows us to obtain the results of data in a real-time basis. The waiting period has been greatly reduced. In some cases, we are able to receive final results obtained from data sources within minutes (e.g reviews for a new film on Twitter or Facebook).

Holistic Intelligence
Big data is all intelligence! There is a huge informational component that brings the push from technology where clouds, mobility, big data, and social media are coming together to create new levers of business value via the three types of intelligence it provides – Business Intelligence (BI), Market Intelligence (MI) and Competitive Intelligence (CI). It begins with looking more deeply into a company’s business transactions. More specifically, who is buying while also capturing where (BI) purchases are made that can capture associated expressions about market happenings (MI) and highlights of varying value propositions by competing products/firms (CI). Combining this data builds a comprehensive bank of data with exponential value.

Teller equivalents
Go beyond sorting. Most companies also set up separate information processing centers that are designed exclusively to glean Social Intelligence but often fail to empower these groups to secure and interpret opportunities that surface; be they from emerging opinions, market spurts, quick sales in hidden pockets, PR fixes, true customer grievances which can be graded as the most serious to the less common. The inability to act on this data will often result in a loss of monetizing opportunities. It takes the ‘mental equivalent of a Teller facility’ in such information processing centers to act on what is needed, be it for customers or businesses as a whole! The information center must go beyond sorting information sets and distributing ‘cases’ to functional (sales, production, finance, etc.) departments to actually ‘baby-sit’ opportunities. This is the quickest way to work on big data results. To facilitate this, companies must also be willing to break silos and connect decision makers laterally. And most importantly to impart a mindset that sees every problem as an opportunity and effectively serves as Teller equivalent!

Blue ocean fallibilities
Cast a wider net. Habits die hard, and most businesses only care to hear the noise that surrounds their immediate competition. Big data comes with wider sets of information that may bring to light new opportunities that reach beyond the envelope that may unearth several possibilities that may have a substantial impact on market share. Remember, if you don’t look, you won’t find it. So, glean those results to identify competition from substitutes to manage accordingly. Consider this, a food retailer noticed quite a few positive reviews about one of their products seen in social media. People found more value for the generic ‘nutritional benefits and convenience’ of the inherent commodity, as opposed to highlighting the ‘taste’ aspect (current positioning) of it. And this meant several things – to re-evaluate value propositions for re-positioning of the product; shift in target messaging to a certain customer segment, and consequent pricing impact if need be. And last, but the least, begin to pay attention to a broader set of substitutes that may make a greater dent into their product market share!

Using big data presupposes an integrated strategy. It’s about using the data in a holistic way – collecting and acting on intelligence from every source – internal and external: shopping, tweeting, postings, etc.) allowing a business to analyze a full and complete profile of their shoppers, their level of satisfaction, of both the product and where their purchases are made, and finally, position this data in such a way as to modify buying habits accordingly. So, it is the ability to combine data, analytics, and decision-making with an entrepreneurial spirit and speed to monetize these trends or results. Irrespective of the size of a business, large or a start-up, it’s now imperative to create an integrated big-data strategy. Big data will transform the business world – so will it yours! So get ready to thrive in the new world!

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