Month: August 2014

What do Businesses Do with Their Data?

Collecting Data is easy…but applying analytics to better understand customer needs and wants is not so easy! It all boils down to what valuable information you need to better understand your customer. There is so much data that you earn, accompanied by data available from the outside, so a right balance needs to be struck! You need to find what really works for you, if not, you will possibly be caught in information overloading with Big Data accumulation.


Supermarkets are combining their loyalty card data with social media information to detect and leverage changing buying patterns. For example, it is easy for retailers to predict that a woman is pregnant simply based on the changing buying patterns. This allows them to target pregnant women with promotions for baby related goods.


Grocery Data – Customers usually buy steak, and are now buying hamburgers. They are also now buying with more coupons….This says a lot! Data can be very meaningful if used smartly! Collect data wisely, collect data when you have a good idea why you are collecting it and how you will use it. Using this data and combining insights can be very powerful. Using the above information, a retailer will be aware that the economy is in a down market and this will alert him to allow more promotions on steaks to boost the sales of steaks and to reduce the amount of steaks on the shelf until the economy is up again.


Many businesses collect data and do absolutely nothing with it, except store it! The data does not actually inform the business. Others, spend lots of time collecting the data, cleaning the data, and then produce beautiful charts and summary statistic tables for their regular reports and or dashboards, but that is as far as it goes…  If sales has dropped from one month to another, then the dashboard will display the drop using a bar chart or trend graph. But that is not good enough. The business should ask itself many more questions. Questions such as: Why has the sales dropped? Which products have dropped in sales? Which sales people have dropped in their sales? Which stores have dropped in sales? Which regions have dropped in sales? Which sales channel has dropped in sales?  And most importantly, what should the business do???


By answering the above series of questions, the business will find insights/golden nuggets that will inform the business as to the cause in the drop in sales. Based on these causes, the business will have to take the necessary steps to bring back the sales to an acceptable or increasing level.


Businesses need to develop dashboards that help them in their day to day business decisions. Always let the data speak to you, let it tell you what to do. Gone are the days when decisions were randomly made without any evidence or data!


Do let me know if you have any questions regarding the collection of data. Why do you collect it? And, when and how do you use your data.


What Makes Big Data Challenging?

Almost certainly, data is everywhere…everyday we ourselves are generating huge amounts of information: when we email, or  click on “like” on facebook, or “click on follow” on LinkedIn or tweet when we like a comment on Twitter, etc.

The types of data that we are generating has also changed. We now watch and share more “Youtube” videos on the go, or download and share more music on the go, or post more photos on the go. This results in most data generated being unstructured and also the speed at which we received it is much faster than a few years ago. In fact, 80% of the new data growth is of the form of videos, audio, photos, text, images, etc and millions of it is generated every second.


What makes Big Data even more challenging are the types of communications we use on social media, such as hashtags, colloquial speech, pictures, abbreviations and typos, etc. What do businesses do with the data? Collecting lots of data is easy….but applying analytical techniques to better make sense of the data, is not so easy!


Data is flowing in from all sorts of directions….blogs, websites, sensors, surveys, forums, etc….How do we make sense of all the data??? It seems the best thing to do, is to find out what works for you. What are your business problems or pain points? How can you use just the data that is related to your business problems or pain points? It is all about collecting data smartly, collecting on the data that will add value to your business!