The value that skilfully handled data is able to deliver to organisations across industry verticals is month-by-month coming into sharper focus. From HR performance measures through to customer loyalty, taking a smarter data-led approach to business practice is clearly how the best brands are #winning. But Big Data is capable of so much more than just assessing your workforce and ensuring customer retention. It can fundamentally influence what sort of organisation you are, and what sort of products you take to market.
The genesis of this is illustrated by a story that I was told during the research phase for Big Data World Europe. Several years ago Walmart, now famed for their aptitude with applying their data, embarked on a study to find out what products they sold most of during the days pre-empting a natural disaster, namely hurricanes and tornados. They expected that they would sell a great deal of batteries, torches, blankets and bottled water. What they didn't expect was the number of Pop-Tarts sold across threatened areas. In fact, many stores would sell out of the popular toaster pastries long before panic buying of other products had died down. This was a real revelation for Walmart and when the next natural disaster occurred they were able to really drive profit from their insight.
And data, if correctly processed, can even create innovation when it comes to deciding which products to take to market. A recent article in the Financial Times states that 75% of retail products fail to earn $7.5 million in their first year. If however you are able to accurately understand what your customer wants, whether that be through direct interaction or through deeper engagement such as applying sentiment analysis to unstructured social data, then that figure will increase dramatically.
To get to the same stage as market leaders, organisations need to instil Big Data buy-in across all areas of the business – from marketing and finance to IT and product design. Data really is going to define the success of your organisation at all levels.