Doing the Unexpected
Shaping and sharing the future with big data
|Posted by Vivekanand Gopalkrishnan, Director, Financial Advisory Services|
Big data is hot. Unsurprisingly, much of what’s written about big data focuses on how big it really is, or the technology needed to exploit it. However, these discussions only hint at big data’s true power. Big data, if used innovatively, can be transformative. One way to innovate with big data is to use it as a force to actually shape the competitive landscape and drive innovation.
Innovation is a key driver of economic success. Without it, it’s difficult to move forward and grow the business. Big data is no exception to the rule: it’s ripe with potential for innovation. Just as forward-thinking companies have for decades with tangible products, today, businesses that choose to can innovate with big data and shape their future.
By applying analytics, and looking hard at the operating model, companies can parse mountains of data to glean insights about customer behavior and buying patterns, and even to understand what the customer may really want, even when the customer seemingly doesn’t know it yet.
So, instead of reacting to events, companies can actually shape their customers’ behavior. For example, a company can use analytics to develop incentives to get its customers to buy older products that are just sitting in its inventory, or to move customers toward new products that may not be selling as well as had been anticipated.
Big data can also be used to create a new, richer engagement with customers, to form a relationship where you give them what they want and you get what you want in return. For instance, companies can create online forums where members receive advice in exchange for access to their data. Privacy, of course, is a critical concern, but if people receive tailored benefits from the exchange, and they understand what they’re agreeing to, they are more likely to consent to their data being used: it’s a win-win situation.
And, companies really looking to expand their big data horizons can actually build an ecosystem with it, without fear of giving competitors an advantage. They can share the fruits of data aggregation. Perhaps auto insurance companies could pool their accident claims data—scrubbing it appropriately—and use the expanded data set to perform deeper analytics into when and why accidents occur, or even into potential fraudulent claims. The numbers then become important storytellers.
In many cases, there will be privacy concerns, and there will be questions as to whether data sharing will lead, to a loss of competitive advantage. However, such concerns can be addressed by how the data is prepared for analysis.
The upshot here is not that big data is a big thing; everyone knows that. The big thing is that there are novel, surprising ways to use big data that many companies aren’t taking advantage of. Just think of the possibilities.
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