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Do you truly know your customers’ needs?

Do you truly know your customers’ needs?

February 2014

A generation ago, most small and medium-sized businesses had a deeply personal knowledge of their customers. The local butcher knew which cuts of meat his patrons liked best. The stationery store knew to remind neighboring businesses when they were likely to need to reorder paper stock.
Between big box stores, global supply chains and the internet, the business landscape has transformed since then. But Big Data is helping companies understand and help their customers better than ever. And it’s not just big enterprises with sophisticated IT capabilities that benefit from Big Data. Thanks to cloud-based providers—which offer access to massive amounts of data, and the ability to analyze it, without great cost—today’s small businesses can use Big Data to better understand customers, optimize operational efficiencies and better plan for the future.
Public Big Data-enabled services
You’re probably already using one or more of the many cloud services offering Big Data capabilities.

  • Google Analytics, which can help you understand where your web traffic comes from, how site users behave and optimize your site to convert visitors to customers.
  • Twitter, Facebook and Yelp, which can provide real-time insight into customer sentiment about your brand.
  • LinkedIn, employing specific keywords to find prospects, partners or job candidates.
  • QuickBooks, which offers free industry-wide data analytics.
  • Government sites, to search for census, economic, or environmental or weather data.
  • Public databases like CrunchBase, which offers information about the technology industry.

In all of these cases, you’re tapping into the power of Big Data. 
“Big Data is everywhere already,” says Ned Weintraub, Director of Global Sales at HP Cloud Services. “For instance, one of our SMB customers, a roofing company, uses Google Earth to scan neighborhoods ravaged by storms to find potential customers. That’s Big Data.”
Digging deeper with private Big Data services
Other providers offer specialized Big Data analytics that can give you even deeper insights—and supercharge your business.

  • By analyzing everything that’s being said about your brand on social media, for instance, you can get a deeper-than-ever understanding of your market. Or combine that information with transaction data to understand how consumer sentiment actually affects your bottom line.
  • By using Big Data to improve your operations—helping you optimize fleet management, for instance, or giving you a better understanding of how specific employees drive your bottom line.
  • By helping you better predict demand for your products or services—and better meet that demand without overinvesting in capacity.

Cloud-based Big Data analytics providers have invested in the hardware, software and personnel you need to get the most out of your data. They can give you the insights you need to compete—without breaking the bank. The trick, of course, is knowing which providers to turn to.
“This is where HP can help,” says Weintraub. “With hundreds of cloud analytics partners, we can connect businesses with the right solution for their needs. We’re their guide through the Big Data forest.”
Looking to the future
With every passing minute, there are 98,000 more tweets, 695,000 Facebook updates, 700,000 Google searches—1,820 terabytes of new data created, in all [1]. Old technologies can’t handle the complexity and velocity of all that data.
Enter Big Data, which will offer increasingly significant opportunities to combine structured and unstructured data—from CRM and ERP systems, video and audio, machine sensors, social media, and more—to generate unprecedented improvement in market insights, operational performance and strategic planning.
Thanks to cloud technology, even small businesses will be able to tap into and parse all that data—affordably, and in near-real time—helping them compete with even their biggest, most tech-savvy competitors.
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[1] HP business whitepaper, Profit from Big Data, August 2013


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