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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