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Getting to Know Big Data – Some Reading Recommendations

Big data has been receiving increased attention in the business community as a very important trend and growth area. This was most recently underscored by big data company, Splunk, enjoying a highly publicized and successful IPO last week.

The articles recommended below, illustrate, in a practical, down-to-earth way, the enormous business value that big data brings to the table.

Improving the Customer Experience with Big Data

Bob E. Hayes of TCELab, in his recent article, Big Data has Big Implications for Customer Experience Management, provides a detailed overview of big data and how businesses can harness its value for enhancing the customer experience and ultimately the corporate bottom line. While Bob covers many important issues in the article, he makes it clear that customer feedback, especially when integrated with big data, is an essential component in creating an ideal user experience.

As an example, by integrating financial data and customer feedback data, companies can shed light on how the customer experience impacts objective metrics like renewals, the type and quantity of purchased products, social sharing, and more.

The article nicely articulates this, stating that “these objective loyalty metrics provide no insight about how to improve them. Linking satisfaction with the customer experience to these objective loyalty measures, however, lets you build predictive models to help you understand the reasons behind your financial metrics. This is powerful stuff”.
We could not agree more.

Gift Shopping Made Easy

Walmart’s new app, Shopycat is a great example of how big data from social media is being used for improving and customizing the online shopping experience and to drive more sales. Tom Groenfeldt, in a recent Forbes article about WalmartLabs, writes that Shopycat can “review your Facebook friends and look at their hobbies, interests and activities and create a list of gift suggestion. You can search for recommendations by name or by interest, review the suggestion and click to buy a gift”.

He also notes how retailers are no longer “limited to monitoring the actions of shoppers on its site or in its stores. Walmart can watch social media for trends” so that retailers can make sure to stock up on the merchandise their target market is looking for right now.

How Target, the Retail Giant, “Knows Before it Shows”

Collecting and mining customer data is not without critics. There is always the concern that companies have too much personal information about individuals. Kashmir Hill, a writer for Forbes, nicely summarizes these issues in her article How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did, which describes how Target used customer purchasing data to not only predict which customers might be pregnant, but also what stage of pregnancy they were in. The article continues, showing how Target successfully leveraged that information for, no pun intended, targeted marketing by sending brochures with baby-care products and other pregnancy related items to ladies that matched the “pregnant” data profile.

For a more detailed and lengthier article on Target’s practices and the important lessons they learned, see the New York Times piece by Charles Duhigg.

If you have any other great articles or stories that highlight the power of big data, we’d all love to hear about it in the comments section!

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