“Big Data” is a term describing a large chunk of raw data gathered, stored and analysed by your organisation.
The concept of big data has been around for decades. Even before anyone had a term for it, businesses used basic spreadsheets, feedback forms, and graphs to track customer insights and trends. The only difference today is that we finally have the right tools and tech stars to tap into the benefits of big data.
With the right data management and analytics systems in place, companies can gather seemingly unstructured information and translate it into actionable insights.
The History of Big Data
While the term “big data” is still quite new, we’ve been dealing with data sets ever since the 60s and 70s. Since the days the first data centres were created, companies have been exploring spreadsheets and basic analytics to make informed decisions about the future.
Around 2005, when social media started to grow in popularity, people began to realise just how much data we generate every day. In fact, our current data output is currently 2.5 quintillion bytes every day.
The information available online today can potentially provide useful insights about your market and customer. In the past, companies needed to use long and expensive processes to sort through that information manually. Today, machine learning and data analytics tools make it easier to access business insights almost instantly.
To better understand the importance of big data, let’s look at how today’s organisations are using it to drive success.
1. Answering Important Customer Questions
The answers to all your most pressing business questions exist within the right data sets. Using big data and analytics, companies can learn:
- What customers want
- Where they’re missing out on conversions
- Who their best customers are
- Why people choose different products
Every day, your organisation gathers more useful insights into your sales and marketing questions, so you can begin to adjust and optimise your campaigns. The more you learn about your customers, the more competitive your company becomes.
For instance, the U.S. company Target uses data analytics to predict customer pregnancies, to help them better offer promotions to their customers. You can even use big data combined with artificial intelligence to create marketing strategies based on predictions about your customer.
For instance, if you use big data to learn that your customers are more likely to up-sell at certain times in the month, you can send lead nurturing emails to prompt those conversions.
2. Making Confident Decisions
All companies need to make complex decisions as they grow.
Big data can help you to make those choices with confidence, based on an in-depth analysis of what you know about your marketplace, industry, and customers.
One of the biggest benefits of big data is its accuracy. Big data analytics gives you a complete overview of everything you’ve learned so far as you’ve developed your organisation. This means that you don’t have to guess whether you should launch a new marketing campaign or try a new product. Instead, you can look back over the information you have, and make focused decisions designed to generate the highest possible ROI.
Add machine learning and AI to the mix, and your big data collections can form neural networks that help your artificial intelligence to suggest positive changes for your company.
3. Optimising and Understanding Business Processes
Knowledge is power. That concept is at the heart of big data analytics.
Big data technologies like cloud computing and machine learning help you to stay ahead of the curve by identifying inefficiencies and opportunities in your company practices.
For instance, your big data analytics can tell you that your email marketing strategy is working, but your social media profiles aren’t reaching the right people. On the other hand, if you use big data internally, you can find out which parts of your company culture are having the right impact, and which may be causing a turnover.
Using existing evidence to make quick decisions ensure that you spend more of your budget on the things that are helping your business grow, and less on strategies that don’t work.
For instance, one area that is seeing a lot of growth with big data analytics is supply chain optimisation. Geographic sensors can track goods and delivery vehicles and optimise routes by providing live data and traffic information.
4. Empowering the Next Generation
Finally, as a new generation of technology leaders enter the marketplace, big data delivers the agility and innovation top-tier talent needs from their employer.
For instance, millennials are natural technology natives. The younger people in your team will expect access to technology that allows them to make useful decisions rapidly. By constantly collecting and analysing information, you can create an agile culture that’s ready to evolve to suit the latest trends.
In the past, limited data sets, poor analytics processes and a lack of the right skill meant that businesses could only access a small amount of the information available to them. Now, companies can not only answer critical questions faster but empower their teams to accomplish more with the information they collect.