Big data analytics is changing the way people run their businesses. Big data is in the process completely upending the way businesses make strategic and tactical decisions… We’ve all heard the familiar hype, haven’t we? In some respects “big data analytics” and/or data science is just a new name for a solution organizations have been developing or wanting to develop for awhile: a way to get value out of the reams of data they’ve warehoused away over the years.
It’s important not to get misled by the hype, but it’s equally important to not let the hype distract from the fact that there really are many different ways data analytics can have a real and transformative effect on business processes. In covering this segment we’ve come across all sorts of uses for big data, some of them more unusual than others:
Advertising used to be a nebulous void (and still is in a lot of ways) in terms of calculating the return on investment. Online at least, things are changing rapidly as companies like ReTargeter and Chango use data analytics to log the browsing habits of website visitors and then harness that data to present relevant display advertising to visitors after they’ve moved on to a completely different site.
“Chango anonymously collects intent data across thousands of publishers,” Ben Plomion, VP of marketing and partnerships for Chango, said, referring to the company’s Chango Data Network (CDN). Using this network Chango offers participating a clients a new revenue stream through purchasing the behavioral data they accrue from their customers and website visitors. Clients are able to add an extra layer of monetization to their SEO/SEM traffic while Chango uses the collected data to improve the quality of their core retargeting offering.
“For us as company, what we call ‘Programmatic Marketing’ is now becoming a reality and we have been able to thrive due to the increased performance of the types of targeted campaigns we can run for our advertisers,” Plomion said. “One interesting point is that big data is creating an broader need for qualified marketing individuals who can act on that data. Robots are not taking over yet.”
Driving new conversions through thoughtful use of display advertising is one thing, but data analytics can also be used to enhance customer service. One example is Apptegic, a SaaS program that bills itself as a sales automation/contact management system, but features powerful user data analytics at its core.
Apptegic tracks customer activity on a website or a piece of software, giving clients a detailed look into the real usage habits of their customers. Clients can then use that data to guide their customer service and quality assurance strategies. For example, if a majority of users of the free version of a piece of software are not using a particular tool, the developers can see that directly and make a design decision–whether it be to contact users via newsletter or to remove the tool altogether.
“There was a whole undiscovered layer,” said Apptegic’s founder and CEO Karl Waith, referring to customer data. “We work on a per-person basis.”
University isn’t a cheap proposition for either the student or the educators. For that reason alone it’s imperative that higher education invest as seriously as possible into methods of increasing efficiency and reducing costs while simultaneously increasing the quality of education and competitiveness.
Data analytics can be applied to the financial apparatus of the campus; not just tuition, but grants, endowments and donations as well. Trends can then be capitalized on and used as a guide in targeting future outreach campaigns.
Steve Parker, Jr., co-founder and managing partner of Levelwing, wrote in an article for Asking Smarter Questions, a Levelwing-sponsored blog, that “often times, data can uncover special interests of a department or individual. Expanding a prolific research program can sometimes make more sense than recruiting more students or increasing class size, and employees will be happier and more productive if they feel they are being utilized in the best way.”
It’s obvious that the applications of data analytics extend well past just marketing strategy or the corporate world in general. Another segment of society that deals with huge reams of data on a regular basis is government. The efficiency of government is a perpetual bone of contention in many, if not most, countries, and effective analytics engines might just be a way towards increasing the accountability and transparency that everyone wants.
One example of collaboration between government and a data analytics company is the partnership of Statistics South Africa with Roambi, a company that produces intuitive interfaces for visualization of BI data. Roambi assisted the South African government in developing ways to package and present the results of the country’s first national census.