Six ways data is changing business as we know it

Big data allows companies to move away from making assumptions and operate in ways that help them make defined conclusions

8Apr

Working with big data allows companies to get insights in ways that would either have remained hidden or been too time-consuming to extract without the help of technology.

It has reshaped the business world and will continue to do for the foreseeable future, especially as big data platforms become more advanced. Here are six ways big data is reshaping business today.

It improves customers' experience

If customers get upset after doing business with a company, some may get so fed up that they leave and never come back. Others do not have terrible experiences, but they conclude the enterprise does not meet their needs as well as a competitor could.

On the other side of things, keeping customers happy increases the chances they will keep doing business with the brand and tell their friends about their positive experiences. Focusing on the customer experience also allows companies to add elements of personalization that promote engagement.

Big data allows companies to move away from making assumptions and operate in ways that help them make defined conclusions about what customers want and need. At the Sainsbury's grocery store chain, a big data platform processes 300 checkout transactions per second and collects them for use in future discussions on how to enhance shoppers' overall experiences.

It enables targeted outreach

Big data also allows companies to take proactive approaches by connecting with customers before they even express needs. In one of the best-known early examples of this approach, Target correctly predicted a teen's pregnancy before her dad knew about it. The brand did so by identifying 25 products that indicate childbearing when purchased together.

In a more recent case, a hospital achieved a 2,000-to-one return on investment by identifying women over age 40 who had not received mammograms in the past year and sent them targeted messages. The health system also sent content to local physicians to tell them about an outpatient imaging center where patients could go for their breast checks.

Businesses must be careful when using big data to inform their operations in the ways described here. In some cases, customers view targeted outreach as helpful, but in others, they see the efforts as instances where companies overstep boundaries and edge into the realm of being creepy.

It encourages businesses to use data in new ways

Big data platforms also give business leaders the tools they need to save time. For example, IntelliAct technology streamlines document and template creation and maintenance. Employees can use natural language statements to control the flow of data creation. Moreover, they can access every element of a database without writing complex queries.

Many people in the corporate sector may not immediately connect big data to the ability to create documents faster than before. However, this is one example of how businesses can cut down on unnecessary processes by figuring out new ways to tap into existing databases using specialty tools.

It facilitates employee hiring and retention

Filling even one open position at a company can take longer than human resources professionals expect. Then, all the hard work to find a suitable candidate could go to waste if the new hire does not stay on board for the long term. Dell is one brand depending on big data to determine the best people to work in critical roles. It does that by correlating team member data with psychometric profiles current or potential employees fill out.

If Dell wants to fill a sales role, it might use big data to find shared traits between their top sales employees and some of the people on the shortlist for an open position. Examining the data in this way could increase the likelihood that people are good fits for a company's needs and culture.

Similarly, big data can aid in employee retention by alerting human resources professionals to potential signs someone is not happy at the company or notify them that their performance suddenly plummeted. Then, interventions can happen before those workers decide to leave.

It aids inventory management

Before the days of big data, logistics managers made educated guesses about the overall popularity of merchandise and how quickly it might sell. Now, big data platforms allow people to enhance inventory management through predictive analytics. That process evaluates numerous factors such as weather patterns, seasonal trends and historical sales data to assess what a company needs to do to have the appropriate stock levels in stores.

Then, enterprises have a better chance of striking a balance between selling out too quickly and disappointing customers or having too much merchandise on hand.

It reveals possible fraud

According to PwC's 2018 global study of fraud, cases are on the rise, with 49% of people reporting an incident that affected them, compared to 36% in a 2016 study. Moreover, 64% of the companies that experienced fraud said the losses from their most disruptive instances could total $1m. Those statistics suggest businesspeople cannot afford to assume they are immune to fraud issues.

Fortunately, big data platforms can cut down on fraudulent behavior. Those tools determine the characteristics people aiming to defraud businesses most often display, such as by looking at patterns in insurance claims or customer bills. It positions enterprises better to take decisive action and look closely at possible fraud cases so they do not slip through the cracks and cause harm.

A more informed way of operating

This list shows ways businesses can use big data to become more efficient and effective. In short, big data provides access to valuable information that could equip companies to stay competitive in a challenging landscape.

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