and why it is the question you must be able to answer
Stability is no longer the benchmark of success in business. Today, a business has to focus on agility and innovation if it wants to prosper and navigating this constant state of fluidity comes with a range of unique challenges.
How do companies adapt, keep up with perpetual change and achieve dynamic growth? How do they stand out from the crowd, managing to be perceived as unique in spite of having the same operations as others in the industry? And how do they remain proactive rather than reactive in their approach?
Everyone’s answer is Big Data.
A democratic buzzword that applies equally to large and small businesses throughout the modern world. And as a student who is preparing to enter the modern world of business it is therefore of the utmost important for you to completely familiarise yourself with this concept.
Big Data refers to a volume of raw data that can be collected and stored and is difficult to analyse and process using the spreadsheets, database management and software techniques previously available. It refers to all the data businesses collect on their customers through traditional processes like marketing surveys, list purchases, call centres, customer transactions, sales and financial records.
Of course, with the prevalence of people doing everything online we now also have Big Data from a range of web sources. Networking computers have been around since the 1950’s and within 70 years we now create more data in two years than humans generated in all of history. Through the prevalence of social media, online orders, website activity, mobile data and online registrations—all of which continues to increase exponentially— we have a seemingly bottomless fountain of data that we can constantly draw from.
However, the sheer size of the data is one aspect that makes it both extremely useful and very difficult to use. It is impossible to gain meaningful insight from very small amounts of data but all the information we are creating is utterly useless without an effective method (or range of methods each suited for a specific task) of organising it or leveraging it effectively.
How can everyone use Big Data to their advantage?
The Data Lake
Big Data is leading to more Big Data as all business owners are advised to start collecting information immediately and to measure everything from keywords to time on site, which images or links where clicked on and where their visitors exited.
Businesses can start small with internal data on Google Analytics and work their way up to external data.
All the data ever collected is called a Data Lake.
Within the Data Lake some of the data is hidden more deeply than other data. It might have been collected a very long time ago or through a process that is not as easy to collate. Data like this is referred to as a Data Silo. Today, data engineers are able to dig deeper than before and through different processes generate varied data which may allow them to come out with fresh and informative insights further down the data development track.
Inside that Data Lake, all the information assets that an organisation has collected, processed and stored in the course of its regular business activities without successfully using it for any purpose can be referred to as Dark Data.
The moment any Dark Data is turned into Big Data is when it is analysed. Now the floodgates are opened and suddenly a company has access to a goldmine of information that they can use directly to accelerate their processes and reduce their operating costs.
Big Data analytics provide businesses with the tools to predict future trends by giving them a competitive edge.
Big Data is analysed through various means, but the goal is almost always to reveal patterns or trends that relate to the behaviours of consumers. Because the bottom line is that customer centricity is a governing principal of modern business.
The patterns that are exposed by the analysis can then be used to maximise the potential of a business. Owners of companies use Big Data analytics every day to help them make smarter strategic production, marketing and manpower decisions with the ultimate direct goal of improving the consumer experience.
Customer service might for instance be bettered through ensuring a better user-experience of a company’s website. Or a corporation might use what they learn through their analytics to create stronger brand recognition and ultimately to promote growth.
Big Data is the ideal vehicle for the fast generation of answers, especially when it is used with infographics and other visual elements. Of course, the faster a company can generate information, the faster they will be able to generate the answers to those questions. Speed is not dependent on information alone but would be extremely reliant on someone being able to review and interpret the potential or value of the data. The trends have to be spotted and recognised as close to in real time as possible.
- Data Visualisation
Productivity is universally increased through an increase in cognition. The benefit of visual matter cannot be overstated as everything is easier to understand when it is seen in a visual or physical form.
Big Data can be used most effectively when the analytics can be presented visually.
Define and Isolate
The most important thing a business can do with their lovely speedy analytics from all their Big Data? One of the biggest roles Big Data plays in modern business is that of describing and abstracting your good customers. These are the customers who are not only opening links and clicking-through on ads but the customers who are actually making purchases. They define the picture of the customer that a business should be targeting and who the business should be building stronger ties to through special promotions and offers.
To accurately define a good customer, a business needs to know the age, location, gender, education level and job level of every person they do business with. Then they must learn all about their needs, so that they can work at meeting those needs.
Now the business can get to work at segmenting that list. This will enable a business to personalize its message in a way that will allow it to speak directly to a specific type of customer.
The New Oil
It is a case of the gift that keeps giving. Big Data does provide countless benefits. It allows the world’s largest firms to develop ever increasing cutting-edge technology providing high-end services to their customers.
Amazon grew from a product-based company to a massive player in Big Data who successfully fulfils customer needs and regularly delights them through the device of tracking 152 million customers and 1.5 billion products in real time around the world.
It is believed that companies using Big Data show over 50% greater growth than their peers and also reap 50% more revenue. It follows that it will be imperative for any business to back their strategies and operations with strong software and support to accelerate their business operations.
Ultimately this will then fuel the need for powerful Big Data technologies to keep moving forward and become more powerful and bigger.
Big Data is the oil or coal for staggering performance amongst today’s leading businesses.
The Big Data Takeaway for Students
The degree to which you understand Big Data and how to analyse it will determine how professional your approach will be once you get your foot on the first rung of your career.
The basic principles of Big Data for every business are:
- Collect as much Dark Data in your Data Lake as possible
- Use the most effective methods to mine as much Data from your Data Lake and your Data Silo as possible
- Use the best analytics tools to interpret the Data you have in as close to real time as possible
- Clearly present your Data Analytics Visually
- Apply your Big Data to understanding your Good Consumer behaviour and needs
- Segment your lists and deliver a service that is customized to each customer
- Predict future trends
It is fast becoming not a question of should you follow Big Data rules but that you will not really survive in business if you do not analyse customer behaviour in order to anticipate current and future trends.
Big Data is now also Crucial Data for everyone.
And especially for students.
Do you want to learn more about this new topic?
The IPBS MIM programme will help you enrich your knowledge!