To a business, data is everything. Well, almost everything. Businesses have always made decisions based on data collected from customers and other sources within the existing business environment. With the advent of technology and the internet of things, the creation and storage of data has only grown. With it has come the increasing complexity of how to make use of all that data.
Firms were already struggling with tons of spreadsheets and databases. Now, data includes but is not limited to; audio, video, text and pictures. The amount of data created in the last two years is about 90 percent of the data existing to date. (Source: SINTEF: one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations.)
So what was created to deal with the increasing volume and complexity of data?
Powerful algorithms and Artificial intelligence were brought together to analyse data and make predictions based on this. Big data was born.
WHAT IS BIG DATA?
Big data is characterized by three powerful words:
Variety because, the type of data accumulated by firms are unstructured and come in the form of audios, videos, text and many more.
Volume: referring to large data which is often unstructured are processed. Data derived from social media, customer feedback, call logs and many more.
Velocity: Here, we are looking at the rate at which the data is received. Imagine, posting an ad on your social media platform and within a few minutes, you receive a lot of interaction from your customers. All these interactions are sources of data which can be harnessed. With the advent of technology, data accumulation happens at high speeds.
WHERE HAS BIG DATA BEEN USED?
Netflix, the giant of entertainment streaming gains a lot of its competitive advantage from big data. Big data allows them to properly predict their customers’ behavior. It tells them what customers are most likely to view: which helps them show and create content their customers will love.
Walmart has been around for over 50 years but are taking full advantage of big data. It helps them to reduce transportation costs and provide their clients with the best customer experiences.
By collecting and analyzing data, they know what products customers like, how long it takes for products to get to a store and what delights and frustrates their customers.
BIG DATA IN GHANA
What does big data mean for Ghana?
Using the Telecommunications industry as a case study, one can say that big data can be one of the biggest differentiators.
The Telcos are one of the biggest mediums of information since they have both voice and internet infrastructure. According to a report from consulting firm, McKinsey, this is what telcos that properly implement big data analysis are doing. They use it to;
- Understand the potential of new products
- Improve customer experiences
- Reduce customer turnover
- Forecast capacity and implement value-based network capacity planning.
Big Data can also be exploited to provide solutions in the agricultural sector. In agriculture, data can be analysed to give accurate predictions regarding weather conditions and how likely it is to affect crop yield. This information will enable the farmer in planning for the season.
WHY SHOULD BIG DATA MATTER TO A BUSINESS?
What value proposition do you offer your customers as a business? Could you have offered the best value without data from and about your customers? Companies can use Big Data to enhance customer experience because it provides insights about customer behaviour and expectations. As companies collate data from social media, website visits by customers, call logs and other forms, they can identify patterns and work to deliver the best offers to their customers or clients. Big data has made computers that are able to learn from the data available and make accurate predictions.
The most important aspect of Big Data for businesses is operational efficiency. Companies can analyse production, customer feedback, expenses and revenue, demand using Big Data. Through this, they can make future predictions regarding demand, revenue and expenses to achieve overall development. Businesses having an idea of what the future holds will give them an added advantage in the rather competitive market we live in.
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