The digital world moves exceptionally fast, and the people who buy products or use services are part of that environment. As they navigate around the internet, they make purchases, give feedback and use devices that produce an incredible amount of data.
Businesses that are able to analyze this information and put it to use in real time can profit from a deeper understanding of their target audience. Those that don’t are missing out on the benefits of big data and allowing their competitors to get a head start.
A changing landscape for businesses
The sheer volume of information involved in big data is so large that standard data processing tools cannot manage it. The new umbrella term for amassing, evaluating and applying huge amounts of digital material is big data. When it comes to business operations, it has many applications. Students of the SBU online business analytics programs will learn more about this innovation as they are prepared for a career in business analysis.
To fit in with the commitments of working professionals, St. Bonaventure University delivers the entire course online. Learners are able to customize their degree by selecting a specialization from topics including leadership, cyber security and marketing.
The applications of big data
Devices, sensors and people are involved in producing ever-increasing amounts of data, thanks to the adoption of mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). The more that we learn about harnessing the power of this information, the more effective it will be for organizations seeking to improve their profits.
It’s not just about looking for major trends that emerge from the innumerable interactions that we have with the digital universe. It’s also about searching for patterns of behavior and identifying irregularities, as these data sets combined can be a catalyst for fresh new products and innovations. Here are some of the ways that big data is already being used to transform the success of businesses across various industries.
Business intelligence can cut costs
Big data enables a company to monitor and then calculate the activities taking place in its sales department. Using this information, the company can spot profitable products – even if they are older items. It can also identify those that have become unprofitable, as well as those that sit somewhere between these two points.
Furthermore, they can monitor underused areas of the operation and see those that need more attention going forward. This ensures that CEOs can move quickly when it comes to adapting their budgets and thriving in a developing market. Organizations that seek agility and want to be responsive to change will often incorporate big data into their strategy.
Advanced forms of targeted marketing
When big data is analyzed thoroughly, it can be a useful tool in the creation of extremely accurate and targeted marketing drives. These allow a business to carefully plan its approach to ensure that campaigns focus on pre-identified customer needs. This type of scrutiny can also help a company to predict the kind of services its customers might need in the future or what products they might want now.
For instance, a company might gather data based on a person’s job, coupled with their website usage and the subscriptions they have. They can use this to be very proactive in each campaign, by delivering personalized messages to customers who already appear to have a particular requirement or preference.
Predicting products that will sell
With enough information from big data, companies can predict in advance the characteristics that people are looking for in a new product. They can therefore develop services or products that have an increased likelihood of success and simultaneously minimize the risk of losses occurring.
Asking customers what they want or waiting for them to explain can still have a place in a business strategy, but when some companies are already delivering these innovations, others could lose out. To avoid losing a substantial market share, it’s worth exploring how big data can reveal what customers are already looking for online. By doing this and meeting its customers’ needs in advance, a business’s profitability will soar.
Enhanced customer service
By understanding what its customers need in advance, a company can predict the kind of issues it might want help with. This can be done by using big data to identify the websites customers have been visiting, the topics they are discussing on social media, and their previous contacts with the company.
Having all this information ready and presented in a clear format will give the customer care team a heads-up when people get in touch with a query. They will have a range of solutions or guidance to offer that pleases the customer and tackles the issue swiftly. Moreover, if the analysis has predicted that a certain problem could emerge, the support team could prevent it from escalating by contacting customers in advance.
Improving the efficiency of processes
Once an entire organization is digitally connected, big data can supply insights into each process that takes place and every product that is made. Looking deeply into each, managers and CEOs can search for areas of concern and find ways of optimizing these operations.
Ensuring that each small action is efficient contributes to overall operational efficiency and maximizes a business’s performance level. The information required will be drawn from the internet, machine logs, devices and operators. It will be used to compare and contrast processes and then to make a report that includes ideas for change.
Cutting back on operating costs
Running a successful enterprise can be expensive, but big data can provide business intelligence that allows organizations to minimize their costs and boost their profits. One area of concern for many organizations is yield management, as knowing which customers to target at what time and for what price can considerably impact profits.
Big data allows businesses to find patterns in their sales and processes, and they can create more reliable initiatives for improvement. Businesses can also search for patterns in the way that people interact with each other while they work, and then come up with design ideas for the most efficient layouts or manufacturing systems.
Furthermore, it makes sense for a company to extend the life of its tools, whether they are computers or packing machines. However, there are a huge number of variables that can affect the longevity of any equipment. By using big data, it is possible to identify the most common causes of damage in the office or on the factory floor and then reduce them.
Protecting data and keeping the business secure
Knowing that there is a data breach is one thing, but finding out where it originates from is very different. Locating a problem can be time-consuming and stressful, and the more time that passes, the worse things can get. Big data can reduce the amount of time it takes to pinpoint a leak and allow it to be resolved in a timely way. Furthermore, when a virus is known about, the IT team can even predict that it might attack their company and then take action to reduce the damage or prevent it from happening.
Through a combination of predictive analysis, monitoring and automation, modern businesses can rely on big data to notice and suspend cyber threats. This technology can minimize breaches that occur as a result of compromised devices, malware, ransomware and insider programs with malicious intent.
Delivering a better customer experience
A company can have a great product, but if customers are not enjoying its website or find the brand unappealing, they will start to shop elsewhere. To ensure that the entire online experience aligns more closely with what consumers like, big data can be used to harvest various types of useful information. This could include the details of what customers inquire about and which products they most often mention, as well as the trajectory of their buying journey.
There might be a design issue that seems irrelevant, but in practice puts people off or confuses them. As many of us are concerned about our safety online, it is unlikely that buyers would trust a website that seems awkward or unusual in some way with their financial details. Therefore, without a deep understanding of its own website, an organization could lose customers at a crucial moment. Over a period of months, this loss of revenue can add up to a sizable loss of sales.
Establishing new revenue streams
Businesses need an insight into the requirements and behaviors of consumers before they can create additional revenue streams. Big data can help them to gather this information, which they can learn from and use to make important decisions about new products or services. Revenue streams are not enhanced by big data alone – it depends on how companies use it and whether they can stay focused on an agreed goal.
Big data has swept away many of the limitations of traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) to offer a more rounded picture of a business’s performance. By tracking indicators such as sales growth, product performance and standard purchase value, a business can see what is happening at that exact moment and what might happen in six months if nothing changes. Big data-driven KPIs can overload a business with information, so in order to create the most profitable revenue streams, businesses will focus on the KPIs that relate to their customers’ needs.
More freedom with supply chains
Big data can be integrated into every area of a supply chain to gather real-time data and ensure that there are no delays to deliveries or dispatches. Forecasting demand is challenging, but it can be improved with data gleaned from the supply chain as a whole. This enables a business to refine its inventory management techniques, as well as its replenishment planning. Blending market trends, data from competing companies, and historical and real-time data, this technology enables businesses to get organized for a rush in advance and avoid being out of stock when customers come calling.
Traceability can also be improved thanks to big data, when it is used in combination with connected devices such as scanners and sensors. Machine learning and AI store and process information relating to particular products, such as medicines that have to arrive on time. By enhancing traceability, commodities can be followed from the day of their production to their arrival in a retail store or medical facility. As a result, stakeholders can enjoy more positive and effective interactions with each other.
Enhancing the delivery of products
Although delivery is the last stage in the process for many businesses, it can also be one of the most problematic. Sectors that rely on the safe and speedy arrival of goods can benefit hugely from big data. Data can be drawn from weather prediction services, traffic news, and more, to prevent unforeseen events from preventing a delivery at the last minute. Furthermore, by analyzing the factors they cannot control, such as changes in insurance, fuel or fleet maintenance costs, a business has more control of its delivery operation and can act in real time.
Cold chain monitoring
Cold chain monitoring is another technology that uses the IoT to gather information that is then processed using big data. Numerous areas of industry, from healthcare to agriculture and food, need a regular temperature for their products at each stage of the delivery process. Even slight shifts in temperature can have a huge impact on the usability, taste or quality of these items.
Cold chain monitoring keeps a constant check on the temperature of perishables to ensure that they reach their destination in excellent condition. It works by using sensors in the transport container, and also by constant data logging. This allows businesses to monitor changes in temperature during every stage of the process, from packaging to transporting and delivering. Should a fluctuation occur, they will be notified in real time and can set about altering the heating or cooling system as required.
Big data assists with successful recruitment policies
Although most companies have a careful recruitment procedure that includes reading CVs, conducting interviews and speaking to referees, they can struggle to predict the likely success of an applicant. In practice, HR managers are usually dealing with hundreds of applicants, especially for in-demand roles, so they are turning to applicant-tracking software and big data to search for the best people from a huge pool. Also referred to as people analytics, big data in recruitment offers more than analyzing resumes and screening social media posts. Instead, it delivers a comprehensive view of an individual, and it can do so before they enter the building.
The US does have a series of data protection laws, but large amounts of personal data are still accessible through social media profiles, business cards, resume databases and a range of other sources. Big data techniques sift vast amounts of information and then interpret trends to look for professional and personal markers of success. Some candidates will look good on paper and perform well at the interview. However, to save time and money on recruitment costs, the business also needs to know whether a candidate will gel with its core values and culture.
The IoT leverages big data
Today, a huge number of everyday gadgets and pieces of equipment can be connected to the internet. They gather data on their own usage and then send this to a central processing point for analysis. Once this is complete, businesses can view the results to spot patterns in the areas that are relevant to their product or service.
Data is recorded from areas such as transport, health, energy usage, and more. The devices used to send information are extremely diverse – they include cars, TVs, watches, smartphones and refrigerators. Technically, anything that has been fitted with a computer chip and the right type of sensor can be used to collect data.
As yet, big data and the IoT cannot suggest actions, but they allow businesses to examine vast amounts of information and then make an informed decision about how to proceed. This key benefit is the essence of big data combined with the IoT. The two technologies are not the same but are closely connected. Currently, there are estimated to be over 15 billion devices with IoT capability around the world. They bring together information and share it in real time, but this process is enabled through the technologies of big data.
Technology for now and the future
Big data is more than just a trend that will have its day and then become obsolete – rather, it is a key tool for business growth that can be adapted to support many different areas of an operation. As advancements in the collection, maintenance and interpretation of data are made, the solutions and innovations available to companies will improve. Big data has huge potential for companies that are willing to explore its applications. The key is to get out and explore them at an early stage so that there is no danger of being left behind.