Big data is much more than just a buzzword in digital space. Instead, it illustrates the transformation of digitisation and the enormous importance of data collection and analysis. In the digital age, almost all activities – both online and offline – generate countless volumes of data. With the introduction of big data, companies now have access to a huge amount of information that cannot be manually structured and analysed. Used effectively, big data analytics help retailers and manufacturers to make informed strategic decisions, understand existing customer needs and drive long-term business success.
“Data is the stepping stone to a new level of knowledge. Big data will change society, politics and business as fundamentally as electric power and the Internet have done”, Björn Bloching and Lars Luckin write in their book ‘Data Unser: How Customer Data is Revolutionising Economies’.
The high relevance of big data in companies
A recent survey by the digital association Bitkom e.V. confirms that the digital changes brought about by big data have already reached the awareness of companies. For 6 out of 10 companies, the use of big data technologies even holds first priority.
Despite the enormous importance of the topic in many companies, the use of such technologies still has room for improvement. The potentials of big data analyses, after all, have not yet been completely exhausted by some. According to the findings from BITKOM e.V., most companies collect and analyse potential data that arises from digital interaction with their customers – be it via the online shop, the website or the e-mail newsletter. Some 30 percent of companies, however, do not yet even collect and analyse this customer information.
It is essential for the long-term success of a company to obtain information about its customers in order to respond to customer requirements with suitable offerings from retailers or manufacturers. In this context, it is important to implement an optimal big data strategy.
The use of big data presents stumbling blocks for retailers and manufacturers
In relation to the use of new technologies, many retailers see some hurdles they will have to overcome. Data protection – in particular the GDPR – plays a central role here. For two out of three companies, the requirements for data protection remain the number one obstacle.
“If we go too far with data protection, we will prevent the use of key digital technologies such as big data and Artificial Intelligence”, says Bitkom President Achim Berg.
Data is an important foundation for strategic decisions, especially in the marketing area. Although data is collected within most companies, half of retailers (51 percent) fail to access this data and thus do not receive sufficient information for relevant measurements in marketing. For 45 percent of operators, the existing data is not used effectively for commercialising their own marketing activities. A further obstacle to the use of innovative technologies is a lack of corresponding specialists. In total, four out of ten companies lack sufficient technologies and resources to work optimally with customer data.
Potential applications of big data analyses
Big data can be used in many different ways. Applications in IT or financial planning can be used, for example, in risk analysis, whereas in production and logistics they are mostly used for quality analysis or process optimisation. Both in stationary retail and in eCommerce, the marketing branch is primarily concerned in this context with market analyses and current customer requirements.
The key to consumer needs is the data that companies obtain through interaction with their customers. This customer data is often collected through the use of AI technologies, some of which we have presented in our article “Retailing in Transition: Artificial Intelligence in action”. Companies now need to identify trends, respond to customer needs and track market developments faster than ever before. Only through meaningful analyses based on valid data can appropriate decisions be made towards business success.
In addition to customer requirements, however, it is also relevant to know other market participants. This is the only way for companies to secure decisive competitive advantages, especially by the analysis of customer and competitor data. With the right technology, you can also keep an eye on the market and see where you stand compared to your competitors. Numerous retailers and manufacturers in eCommerce are trusting in the highly automated blackbee solution, which collects highly valid data on a daily basis from the Internet and thus provides a broad view of the prices and products of your competitors. Individual and precise findings then enable you to identify opportunities and risks on the market, and then to react accordingly, thus giving you an edge over other providers.
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