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Who’s using Big Data?

Big Data—hype or hope?

February 2014

Is there anything to the Big Data hype? In a word, yes. In some industries, companies of all sizes are already using the ability to collect and analyze unprecedented amounts to data to reap significant real-world rewards.
Some are combining massive amounts of demographic, transaction, web browsing, call center, geolocation and social media data to learn more about customers—what they want and need, what makes them tick—and use that understanding to tailor marketing efforts more finely. Others are using sensor, video and RFID data, generated internally and by vendors, to lower costs by streamlining operations and logistics.
Retailers big and small turn to Big Data to:

  • Reach customers with promotions when and where they’re most likely to buy (e.g., when they’re on a specific website or walking past a brick-and-mortar location)
  • Personalize pricing to close more sales
  • Maximize revenue from cross-selling and upselling
  • Empower sales staff to better meet customers’ needs
  • Optimize in-store merchandising (e.g., combining video and transaction data to locate product displays where they’ll have maximum impact)
  • Better predict and plan for demand, using data about competitors’ offerings, vendor ad buys, and weather and economic data
  • Operate more efficiently across the supply chain, from purchasing to inventory management

Financial services firms use Big Data to:

  • Reach customers with messaging that speaks to their unique needs, via the channels most likely to convert them
  • Personalize products and portfolios to meet customers’ unique objectives
  • Price products and services to optimize revenue
  • Optimize trading operations and risk management by analyzing market, economic, geopolitical and other data
  • Better prevent fraud (e.g., by more quickly identifying unusual transaction data)

Telecommunications companies leverage Big Data to:

  • Gain more granular insight into bandwidth usage, using data from infrastructure like hubs, switches and routers
  • Allocate network development and maintenance budgets more efficiently, meeting demand while avoiding overcapacity
  • Improve network performance by providing bandwidth when and where it’s needed
  • Reduce churn by offering products and pricing that are more responsive to customers’ needs
  • Create new revenue streams (e.g., by selling customer data to advertisers)

Healthcare—from doctors, hospitals and insurers to pharmaceutical and biotech companies—is benefiting from Big Data as follows:

  • By combining local treatment-outcome data with public data (e.g., from the NIH, CDC, and Medicaid), providers better understand outcomes among subpopulations than they can with smaller data sets
  • R&D departments combine clinical trial data with data from other studies to gain deeper insight into the efficacy of treatments
  • Payers benefit from enhanced fraud prevention (e.g., unnecessary tests or overbilling for services) while lowering costs by insisting on evidence-based treatments and performance-based drug pricing

Manufacturing companies turn to Big Data to:

  • Plan production runs to meet demand more cost effectively (using real-time customer-order and supplier data)
  • Enhance quality using production-environment sensors to optimize air flow, temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Identify specific product units that don’t meet quality standards using sensors in production machinery
  • Improve efficiency by halting production runs temporarily if a piece of machinery needs maintenance or recalibration

Media and entertainment companies use Big Data to:

  • Deliver personalized marketing messaging when and where consumers are most likely to purchase content
  • Decide which properties to invest in (e.g., which game, book, or film titles to develop)
  • Choose distribution channels (e.g., broad or limited release for theatrical films, Netflix or Hulu for online video distribution, or digital or print distribution for books)

These industries are among those at the forefront of using Big Data to lower costs, increase sales and grow their bottom line. No matter what your business, though, the future includes Big Data—and the time to start planning for that future is now.
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