How Companies Use Big Data Successfully

August 22, 2014
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The term Big Data refers specifically to the various data channels and information sources that are available to businesses in the 21st century. With the onset of the digital realm, these various channels are more numerous, and produce a more voluminous amount of data, than ever before. In a more general sense, however, Big Data merely refers to something that has always been an integral element of business marketing – that being, market research and analysis.

Big Data provides businesses with a means of determining customer needs, preferences, wants and demands – and in turn, how to satisfy these various needs, traits, quirks and particularities. A company that is able to successfully parse through Big Data has an advantage over those competitors that don’t. Ultimately, no amount of data is helpful if there isn’t a means of analyzing it, making recommendations based on the data, and measuring the results of steps taken.

The question remains, however: how best to make use of Big Data? Well, the answers to that question are numerous and varied, but in general, businesses would be well-served following these basic principles.

Make Decisions Based on Fact – Not Instinct

One of the greatest benefits afforded businesses by data analysis is that decisions can be made not based on hunches, but on hard numbers. As soon as a company realizes this, it can start taking concrete steps to address legitimate and documented needs – customer needs, internal needs, logistics needs, and more.

One example of how data analysis can guide business decisions would be whether or not to continue offering a product or service, based not just on sales numbers, but on customer feedback and demand as well – as made evident by parsing through Big Data. Are sales numbers relatively low but demand on social media platforms is high? Perhaps this means that the product is poorly marketed or above market-acceptable costs. Big Data can provide this insight but being able to make the connection and determine how to solve the problem will be what leads to success.

Understand the Customer’s Journey and Needs

Speaking of social media platforms, Big Data in the 21st century is inevitably made up, at least in part, of customer data from various media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Companies that figure out how to leverage this audience – companies like T-Mobile – are set to reap the benefits, both financially and in terms of customer loyalty. In other words, if you as a company understand your customer’s needs, and their journey from shopper to buyer, success is all but assured.

The wireless carrier T-Mobile sees social media data as being invaluable. Recognizing the unique opportunities these platforms present, the carrier makes a point of being very active and engaged on social media, and strives to listen to customer feedback. Perhaps more importantly, the carrier makes changes and adjustments in its services and products when necessary based on this feedback. In June, T-Mobile ran a marketing campaign for the new LG G3 device, during which they gave away one device a day to a social media follower. The expense for the company was minimal, yet the exposure was great.

Don’t Let Big Data Overwhelm You

Though parsing through Big Data can be incredibly beneficial, it’s important to remember that the actions a business takes based off of this data is ultimately what makes a lasting impact. If a business allows itself to become mired in data analysis, research, and data collection, it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. Unless recommendations are made and action steps are taken, data is ultimately nothing more than an intriguing thought exercise. Don’t let data overwhelm you.

If your business is starting to embrace Big Data, be sure to also embrace the concepts of speed and simplicity. Collect and parse through the data that you can, but don’t allow it to become an anchor on the business. Additionally, invest in hard and soft solutions that will allow for some amount of automation, not only in data gathering and analysis, but execution of action steps as well. If the market for a particular product is going up or down, for example, invest in computer software that will adjust product prices automatically based on this data. Making the investment up-front will enable flexibility and freedom in the future.