After Cloud and SaaS, the hype is now surfacing around BIG DATA. Moreover, as with Cloud and SaaS, many views and interpretations paint a very colorful picture – the big (J) question – how do we turn all of this into tools that can help businesses make the right decisions based upon facts and not assumptions?

In today’s world, the amount of data grows every second and we are starting to look at data in a much more “science-like” way. Instead of the traditional data mining with our “own-created” data sets, we now reach out to the cloud to include new data sets and find new correlations, some unexpected, and use them to adjust our strategies.

No doubt, the possibilities are there and many businesses stand to gain from the new resources of data – one in particular, the retail business.

Consumers have been studied over and over again. The marketing departments and their advertising agencies conduct surveys, gather focus groups, and experiment to learn more and “hope” for the best when creating go-to-market strategies and executions. We still see marketing campaigns with budgets one can only dream about – do they pay off? Are results measured? Do the agencies and marketing departments look to the sky and use BIG DATA to justify spend? Do they invite university professors to the table to find new ways to use the BIG DATA or is it just “like we have always done”?

What if we reached out to the cloud and incorporated data about the weather, what was on TV, sports results, political views and opinions, competitors’ pricing and advertising schemes, etc., and mapped it with what the customer actually purchases, the receipt – wouldn’t our predictions be much more accurate? Wouldn’t we be able to adjust much quicker and leverage that consumers tend to be very predictable in their behavior? Companies doing business online have probably to some extent captured these ideas – like Amazon and others – but the traditional physical stores and outlets are still stuck in the old world.

How about the investment in sponsorships many FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies do? How the effect is measured is key – probably only post-sponsorship or at the most visibility in media and then using various models to justify spend. Let us instead look at what effect a front page photo of the football team in the paper – at display in the supermarket – has on the consumers on that particular day.

We can only do that by getting BIG DATA into play and being smarter about how we look at data. We need to reach out to the universities AND anthropologists to understand how to look outside of our own databases and reach for the Cloud.

Within EU, politicians are all looking to the Cloud to get public data in play – it’s about time the Retail industry just looked at all the Data in the Cloud and put it to use. Gather new data, map it to what is already there, and I am sure that we are in for some surprises.

Next step: Get the team together, DB experts, Cloud experts, professors and anthropologists and find the funding – move everything to a secluded island and create the new era of BIG DATA in retail.

Author: Anders Trolle-Schultz

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