All of a sudden there is all this fuss around Big Data and how you are lagging behind if you are not using it.
But what is Big Data?
Big Data is the large data sets a company stores and uses in order to analyze its customers and their preferences. Companies have been using big data since a lot of years but it has been in the limelight only recently. The consumer industries have become very competitive and all companies are fighting to get the highest market shares and profits. One-size-fits-all strategy does not work effectively anymore, customer needs have evolved and changed and companies need to cater to all the needs in order to satisfy the customers. Using customer data helps companies understand the buying patterns, amongst other things, so that companies can analyze and predict what the customers may buy next and be prepared.
There are many platforms companies can use to carry out analysis, some of the popular ones are SPSS, SAS, XL Miner, Google Analytics and Tableau. The first step for a company would be to collect customer data. It can be new data which can be collected through surveys or by collecting sales data from different stores. It can be very time consuming and expensive and take up a lot of company resources and so another option can be that companies hire a third party source which specializes in market research and customer data analysis. Companies like AC Nielsen do this and are very successful.
Like everything else, using Big Data has its pros and cons too. Some of them are:
Helps companies take an informed decision about their products and services
Helps predict the future trends so that companies know what to concentrate on in order to be prepared and deliver as per expectations
Helps personalize and customize products or services for clients and customers
Including data in reports for clients help them visualize their company performance better
Most of the analytic platforms are extremely expensive
Companies may need to hire experts in the data analytic field
If new people are not hired, a lot of money and time may be spent on the training of existing employees to enable them to use analytical platforms
Any small mistake in predicting the trends and analyzing data may change the results drastically and cost the company a lot
Collection of customer data may be difficult as not all customers may be willing to share their data due to privacy issues
Even though data analytics is an investment it will benefit the company in the long run. Managers should look into using big data in all their departments, specially marketing and sales, in order to be on top of the game and be profitable in the market.