The biggest buzzword in marketing and advertising for the past year has been “big data.” But what was once mostly a concept is now a reality for increasing numbers of companies that hope to harness the power of big data.
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Applying big data in your business is more simple than ever and the costs associated with the technology are dropping. It’s not only big corporate players that get to reap the benefits. Small and medium-sized businesses can now also participate and increase their profitability.
In the U.S., only 30% of medium-sized business and 10% of small business have incorporated big data systems into their operations, according to market research firm Techaisle, LLC. But 50% of small and medium-sized companies want to start using big data in the near future because they know that they must boost performance—improve operations, expand customer base, offer new products and services, increase profitability, and reduce costs. In short, they know they need to be smart about managing the unknown.
The service economy
The world is going through a change—from a world of goods to a world of services, from a focus on the masses to a focus on the individual, and from long-term decisions to immediate responsiveness.
With the help of data and big data, in particular, businesses can improve their communication with customers; that is, improve messaging and zoom in on target audiences, improve products and services, and streamline the organization. The fact that we and our customers are always consuming and sharing information online offers a great opportunity to use the information for business purposes.
This reality changed the rules of the game for all the players in a company, whether it's the CEO or the rank-and-file of business operations, sales or marketing. A company must adapt as technology evolves and new consumer patterns emerge. A company must know how to maximize digital marketing through more effective consumer engagement.
Tracking, analyzing, and responding to customer behavior using tools like big data will help provide value in real time to each and every customer. This must be ongoing effort. Moreover, the better the software is at learning consumer behavior, the better it can provide personalized treatment to different target audiences.
Good for business and for customers
The idea behind big data is not just about gathering vasts amounts of information but also about analyzing the data in real-time in order to generate insights that serve a company’s business goals and answer customer needs. Big data helps us ask the right questions so that we can improve performance, compete more effectively in the market, and improve customer relations.
In a study by International Data Group, Inc., 55% of small businesses that have used big data reported an improvement in customer relations, 41% reported an improvement in their operations, 32% said they had changed the way they do business, and 22% said they streamlined their supply chain.
There is no doubt that big data is necessary, and I believe that next year artificial intelligence will become the technology not just of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Alibaba, but of all businesses regardless of size, as the buzzword of today turns out to be the product of tomorrow.
Ilan Zachi is the CEO of Zap Group Ltd., which operate consumer websites in Israel and around the world.