Big data has been a buzzword in business circles for some time now but there’s a lot of confusion over exactly what it is and its implications for the average business owner in Britain. For instance, A NewVantage Partners survey of Fortune 1000 executives in 2016 revealed that 69.6% of companies now regard Big Data as “very important or critical to their business success”. However, big data isn’t just relevant to big enterprises. The accurate collection and application of multiple data streams is now a necessity for any company – regardless of their size. Moreover, those companies who act now to put such measures in place will have a distinct advantage over competitors who ignore the impact big data will have on the business landscape in the coming years.
Not sure how you can use big data to gain a competitive advantage in your sector? Read on to find out three key ways in which it could impact your company today. And let us know how you think it will affect your business in the comments below.
It Tells You What Your Customers Want
Big data is all about information, and information about its customers is one of the most valuable assets any business can have. Take the car industry. With on-board technology reaching new heights of sophistication with each passing year, manufacturers now have access to a vast amount of data about their customer’s driving habits and preferences. Properly collated and analysed, this data can now be used to create more user-friendly and cost-effective vehicles. Put simply, access to wide-ranging data will give you better insights into what your customers want, how they use your product or services, and what channels they use to purchase.
However, this comes with a caveat. With more and more of their customers’ data at their fingertips, businesses will need to take a fresh look at their privacy policies and security protocols used to protect that information. Your customers may allow you to gather data about them but how you use it and protect it will become an increasingly important issue. Added to that, in order to encourage your customers to share their data with you, you’ll need to provide value for them. The process of data collection will have to become a two-way street.
It Will Make You More Efficient
Properly utilised, big data technologies can have huge implications for the speed at which a company responds to its customers’ wants and needs across almost every sector of business. For example, in the customer service sector, an analytics-enhanced CRM system can be used to survey multiple data sources in order to present multiple solutions to a customer’s problem in real time, which can be offered to them by a trained employee. In the insurance and banking industries, analytics can speed up the lengthy processing which is required to prevent against fraud by rapidly identifying straightforward transactions and those which need to be dealt with by a member of staff. And in the healthcare sector, patient data can be accessed by medical staff to help them diagnose and suggest treatment for individual patients with a speed that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
Finally, in manufacturing, data analytics present the opportunity to get a granular view of production systems, increasing operational efficiency and reducing costs. Most manufacturing companies already have access to a vast amount of data. However, without the necessary data analysts to interpret it, most of it goes unused. By investing in systems and staff that will be able to construct coherent patterns from many differentiated data streams, companies can make unprecedented gains in efficiency. In practice, this means real-time monitoring of devices in a production line to allow a business to identify potential mechanical problems, preventing costly shutdowns before they happen.
It Allows You to Plan for the Future
Being able to predict the future is the dream of any business owner. And happily, the science of predictive analytics, which uses pre-existing data sets to determine patterns and predict future trends, is one way of coming closer to that dream. Of course, actually predicting the future remains in the realm of science fiction, but predictive analysis does offer potential outcomes with a fair degree of reliability, better allowing business owners to plan their long-term strategy.
Predictive analytics has been around for a long time, but had relatively few practical implications for most businesses because of a lack of data. Now, with reams of data readily available, it is taking an increasingly important role in how companies plan for the future. For example, retailers are using predictive analytics to determine which products to stock, manufacturers are using it to determine production schedules, and some companies are even using it to select new employees that are best suited to a job, thus reducing staff turnover (both Google and Xerox have used predictive analytics in this manner with great success).
To conclude, the use of big data solutions must be allied to a solid long-term strategy. The technology is already available, however companies must make the right decisions about how that data is interpreted and will need to put in place the systems and staff to facilitate that. When allied to a clear strategy, big data genuinely has the potential to change the landscape of British business forever.
Is your business best placed to take advantage of big data? Or are you already embracing its potential? Share your thoughts in the comments below. You can find your local Allied Irish Bank (GB) business centre in our guide.
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