Big data. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ve heard of it; although you probably have no idea what it is or how it applies to your business. If you haven’t heard of it, listen up.
In the last several years, big data has begun to influence boardroom decisions in a big way. In fact, 85 percent of businesses are trying to be solely data-driven, some even adding an expert data analyst as full-time members of their team though only 37 percent admit to doing it successfully.
According to a recent study by McKinsey, sales and marketing stand to gain the most from the integration of big data, but there are several other business functions that stand to improve as a result of big data. These include operations, product development and forecasting.
Know your customers better than they know themselves
With big data, you now have the power to not only know who your clients are, what they like, and how they like it. You can learn what prompts them to click on your content. What makes them convert from an accidental client to a regular? What are their favorite products? What are their opinions about your competition?
Big data, primarily sourced from social media channels, gives you the chance to leverage your customers’ interests and motivations to drive sales and increase profitability. Knowing not just what they want but when/how/where they want it allows you to predict and plan for opportunities to sell.
Every business struggles with marketing. There are countless options to get the word out about your business, limitless amounts of customer data and universal confusion about what it all means. Big data can reveal the most effective way to market your business.
Big data can help you identify what content your clients respond to, how they prefer to be marketed to and at what times, and what offers are most likely to cause them to click (and buy). Do they prefer traditional print advertising? Do they respond to visuals like photos and maps or do they prefer written content? Do they like to read blogs? Do they like to watch videos that relate to the products? All of these questions can be answered by big data.
Using big data to analyze your business processes can completely transform your efficiency and output. This information can help you determine where your processes are lagging and how best to remedy those issues.
For example, say you are a run a trucking company and big data analytics reveals that your drivers are not utilizing the best possible routes to their delivery destinations. You could analyze the accumulated data in order to better plan your driver’s routes and ensure they spend as little time stuck in the traffic or searching for alternative routes, wasting their time and fuel. This not only increases the speed and volume of deliveries but also reduces your fuel costs as well, improving overall efficiency. That is big data at work!
There are a whole host of new products that could be created from big data. Certainly, you could sell your data itself, which most of the most valuable companies do. But there are other applications for this information, like product personalization and more.
Your data should reveal what products your customers need and want. With the assurance of big data, you can create a new product you know they will buy.
Big data relies heavily on identifying trends and patterns, so creating forecasts is a natural benefit. Forecasting with big data isn’t black and white. It doesn’t simply consider what happened last year and what will probably happen this year.
No, it considers long-term industry trends, worldwide market fluctuations and volatility, political climates and the likelihood for natural disasters. Forecasts become more accurate and enable businesses to better prepare for the road ahead.
The notion of big data and everything it implies is nothing short of intimidating. It’s an unstoppable force that will guide business decisions for decades to come. In fact, the big data market is currently worth $42B, although it’s projected to increase to $103B by 2027.
There is no shortage of data out there. What is in short supply is understanding how to harness it in a way that benefits your business. Do your research, learn the benefits and usher your business into the information revolution.