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Why Big Data Changes the Way You Do Business

Dale Schembri

Product Marketing Executive

Any experienced businessman knows that business is not merely about having a product. It is also about knowing how to build a rapport with your public audience, with the intention of getting them to consume the product subconsciously. Companies need to have the capacity to learn as much as they can about their potential customers in order to achieve that, but how?

According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, ‘you collect data. Enormous, almost inconceivably large amounts of data.’

This article is not a book review for The Power of Habit, but any entrepreneur or business owner would do well to read it for its insight as to how it becomes possible to operate in accordance to observable consumer behaviours. Enter the concept of Big Data, and how you can use it to your advantage.

Big Data is a term used for datasets that are so large that it becomes impossible to process or analyse them simply by using traditional software and database methods. Analysing big data is a massive operation that requires top of the line storage and visualisation methods.

The reason why Big Data can be so mind boggling (and yet so useful to your company) is that to the untrained eye, Big Data can initially seem all over the place, as it is an extensive collection of both structured and unstructured data. Making heads or tails of such data can be hard to do, so imagine how much more daunting it can be to try and give that data a practical purpose.

How do businesses get around this? By having a fully trained analytics department, as opposed to a couple of statisticians at the office. Big Data requires getting some of your best minds together to tackle it. It is a proper business investment, but it is a business investment that pays off significantly.

If you are sceptical, you can turn back to The Power of Habit for proof. The book explains how Big Data is used by all sorts of entities to heighten their sales output by capitalising on human behavioural patterns. From which animals are most effective in greeting cards, to how it becomes possible to sell junk food in grocery stores by placing healthy food at the beginning of the aisle, it becomes delightfully clear that Big Data has changed the business game in an extraordinary way.

One particular chapter focuses on the career of a rather innovative statistician, Andrew Pole. Pole took on one of the most challenging Big Data jobs in history – that is, analysing the behaviours of consumers who shop at Target, an entity that seems to be smarter at working around consumer patterns than other huge names such as Amazon and Best Buy.

One of Pole’s strengths was known as the ‘guest portrait’, which is a predictive analytics way of determining information about consumers’ lives depending on buying patterns. If you stop by Target to buy popsicles after work, Pole would determine that you have kids and would send you coupons and leaflets to manipulate your next purchases, to great success.

More interesting than this, though, is the ability to deduce further information about consumers when buying patterns change. Research has shown that buying patterns always change when a major life event occurs. Thanks to this principle, Pole was able to develop a way to accurately whether consumers were likely to be pregnant or not. This new algorithm led to a notable incident in which a household received a leaflet for baby goods, which resulted in an angry father complaining to Target. What the father did not know was that his daughter was in fact, pregnant. A sudden shift in her buying habits, to vitamins and delicate soaps, caught her out!

This story, of course, though amusing, raises ethical concerns. There is nothing wrong with gathering data to learn about your customers and so increase the effectiveness of your business. A level of subtlety and tactical approach, however, goes a long way. Your customers cannot feel uncomfortable by what you know, as the business relationship can then become compromised.

The ultimately take away here though is that if you want your business to thrive, you would be wise to make use of Big Data analysis. To do that, though, you need the data storage space your business deserves, which is where BMIT comes in

Our Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are the most powerful cloud server solutions in the business, giving you as much space as you need to perform your analytics on, with equally powerful security features that ensure that none of that data gets lost. BMIT can come up with tailor-made solutions to meet your applications exactly, all while keeping your budgetary concerns in mind.

With BMIT, you work more efficiently while saving money. We will help you use the Big Data you collect to its full capacity, and the prosperity of your business will be the result.

This article was featured on the Times of Malta here

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