Using Big Data to Win: How to Create Data Driven Strategies for Your Company

June 2, 2014
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ImageUnless you grew up in a small town or are over 70 years old, most of us don’t know what it is like to walk into a shop where they know your name and what you are likely to purchase. Now, with big data, businesses can know us better than the neighborhood barber. Companies analyze data to understand what customers want and how to get it to them easier.

ImageUnless you grew up in a small town or are over 70 years old, most of us don’t know what it is like to walk into a shop where they know your name and what you are likely to purchase. Now, with big data, businesses can know us better than the neighborhood barber. Companies analyze data to understand what customers want and how to get it to them easier. Forget the local waitress knowing your name and how you take your coffee – big data can tell companies far more intimate details so they can tailor their approach to fit your needs.

A data-driven approach to business is mandatory to stay competitive in your industry. How are companies harnessing this power to disrupt their industries? From data models to marketing, to applying big data to saving the environment, here are our favorite examples of using data to innovate and some tips to build a data-driven strategy for your company.

Using Big Data to Save the Environment and Get Good Press: UPS

By using sensors that captured over 200 data points from over 80,000 vehicles, UPS cut its carbon footprint and improved its image. Gathering data on factors such as speed, number of stops, and mileage gave UPS a colossal amount of information. Analyst mined the data to create operational improvement strategies with big benefits for the environment. The results were incredible: UPS reduced carbon emissions by a reported 13,000 metric tons and saved 1.5 million gallons of fuel in 2012. Check out this awesome infographic for more information.

Using Big Data to Ramp of Customer Service: Delta Airlines

Airlines face cut-throat competition, especially with the introduction of low-cost carriers, such as SouthWest and EasyJet. The Airline Quality Rating Report looks at data that the airlines are legally mandated to report including: On-time arrivals, denied boardings, mishandled bags, and customer complaints. Delta Airlines is sifting through the information to combat one of those aspects: mishandled bags.

VentureBeat explains, “Delta looked further into their data and created a solution that would remove the uncertainty of where a passenger’s bag might be. Customers can now snap a photo of their baggage tag using the “Track My Bag” feature on the Delta app and then keep tabs on their luggage as it makes its way to the final destination. Even if a bag doesn’t make it on the intended flight, passengers save time tracking it down. Finding a new way to put big data to use for the benefit of their passengers put Delta out front in a competitive market.”

Using Big Data to Determine Interest and Save Marketing Dollars: Netflix

Netflix ended 2014 with more than 44 million subscribers worldwide, and data is collected from all those users every time they visit the site. Playing, rating or searching for a video are events that are captured and analyzed. Time, date, geolocation, device and browsing or scrolling behavior in a page can also be used to provide the context in which such events occurred and place users in different buckets. Netflix uses this data to create new programming and to market it. “We don’t have to spend millions to get people to tune into this,” Steve Swasey, Netflix’s VP of Corporate Communications told Gigagom, “Through our algorithms we can determine who might be interested in Kevin Spacey or political drama and say to them, ‘You might want to watch this.’”

And now for our favorite quote of the day:

“It’s not data alone that helps us improve. It is what we do with it that makes the difference.” Jack Levis UPS Director of Process Management.

These inspiring examples are wonderful to read about, but how do you build a data driven strategy for your company?

Choose The Right Data

The volume of available information is expanding exponentially. At the same time, the tools to analyze that information continually improve. The key is to sift through the oceans of available data to find the crucial insights that will impact your business.

Transform Data Into Opportunities

After choosing the right data, analyze it and find opportunities to drive business forward. One of my favorite startups, Rent The Runway, excels at creating opportunity from analysis. Mashable reports that “RTR’s data illustrated that 25% of its customers were adding an accessory to their designer dress orders, so RTR jumped on the trend. Rent the Runway launched an entire upsell program on the site because of this strong data,” says CEO Jenn Hyman. Strong data has proven to be essential for monitoring customer trends and capitalizing on new opportunities for revenue growth. Our Runway, the startup’s search engine of UGC photos, was launched in part because women who had viewed photos of dresses on real women were 200% more likely to rent than those who have viewed a dress on a model.

Continually Monitor and Improve

Like your business, information never stops. Markets, customer preferences and your competition are constantly changing. Once you have your baseline analysis, continually monitor trends and search for new opportunities to increase revenue.  More data, on individual customers and their behavior as a whole, will suggest new possibilities for even finer and more subtle analysis.