Big Data: it’s useful, it’s interesting, it’s a little unnerving, and it’s here to stay. Companies large and small are leveraging Big Data in many different aspects of their business practices, and to great effect. But like with all new technologies and tools, data solutions require knowledge and a careful touch before employing them. Here are a few ways that Big Data is being used for business success:
Big Data, or the information gathered from people about their demographics, habits, relationships, and more, can give great insight into how businesses can streamline their practices to best suit their employees and customers. With the ability to analyze what outfits people are sharing on social media and blogging platforms, clothing companies can predict demand for specific trends and accessories, and therefore can produce and ship the optimal amount for sales to their stores. The doors have been blown off of the accuracy and application of predictive analytics, and now it’s up to companies to utilize data solutions in new and creative ways.
These same predictive analytics allow companies to innovate like never before. Both producers of goods and service providers can brainstorm new offerings with unprecedented information about what their consumers want, need, and buy. Big Data applications can include risk analysis, market research, budgeting and planning, and beyond, allowing business decisions to be guided by information from the very people they want to target.
Of course, when business goals are informed by customer data, customers truly become the heart of a company. With knowledge about what people will buy, what they’ll have concerns about, and what may become an issue, customer service can become proactive, solving problems before they occur. Products and services informed by data can also bring customers closer to the company, which is especially visible in the personalization and optimization of individual purchasing experience that has pervaded online shopping. In the eyes of advertisers, shoppers become ubiquitous with the brands they love, and brand loyalty grows.
If all of this sounds vaguely frightening, you’re not alone. Leveraging Big Data means walking a fine line between catering to and intruding upon consumers’ lives, and it’s easy to see how companies can easily topple onto the wrong side. Almost five years ago, a story broke about Target predicting a young woman’s pregnancy based on her purchases before she had even told her family, and a panic about Big Data and predictive analytics started like wildfire. But the fact is that consumers today want to be catered to, and they understand that nearly everything they do can be tracked, seen, and analyzed. The danger is doing it wrong.
When Big Data is used to enhance business practices for both the company and the customer, it pays off. But ensuring that data is secure is the first step. Without proper safety measures and secure data solutions in place, there is a real risk of compromising customer information and losing money and reputation. So, with Big Data as with so many other things: safety first.