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Big Data Can Help Your Business Grow Really ‘BIG’


Without understanding the proper utilization of big data and analytics according to organization’s requirement can guide your business nowhere. But at the same time an in-depth meaningful understanding of applications of big data and analytics surely can guide your business success-where.


We have been seeing well-constructed posts in the digital media about Businesses investing heavily on CRM analytics for Customer Experience Management and meeting with limited success. I cannot disagree with this central premise that your own internal CRM data analytics will meet with limited success. However, having spent 12 years analyzing CRM data and customer behavior in the field of consumer and business banking(earliest industry to embrace CRM along with telecom), I wanted to point out (in the friendliest manner) why and where some of these inferences/assumptions  are wrong.

A Reality Check

The weakness lies in the way many businesses live with the common myth that Big Data is all about volume and velocity and that , real-time statistics on both their internal and external data in the form of a dashboard shall keep the business running. Add-on to this is the influx by the generic social media marketers on providing automated “metrics” and sentiment analysis, with whom a business engage at a cost and identifies the outcome to be either poor or useless. These businesses also engage more people to get to a random sample for insights by sifting through the BigData, which tends to make it more expensive and slower, often prohibitively expensive and often too slow.  And when businesses do get into Big Social data analysis, they end up with the facts that it is hard to attribute comments to specific groups, eg: countries, regions, age and gender.

Then you would ask, “How do we turn it around. What in BigData and analytics, do we need to focus on for business value-adds?” The weakness is in the way we do analytics, we ask! Exactly! Ask the customer through your Customer Surveys about your service and product and a fraction of your customers reply back on these surveys. And the analysis would typically end at NPS or CSAT score from such surveys or an automated sentiment analysis on the customer feedback. And the same gets repeated on the Social media data also, where focus is on to understand good and bad around brand sentiments and statistics, thereby missing out on the finer details.

What I believe…………….

Here I have a slightly different perspective to what has been shared above to ensure business value – many a times tangible, and at times, intangible. The art of Big Data and Analytics is about listening research. It lets a business listen to what people talk about and share with regard to your brand, products or services – internally through your agent/customer interaction CRM logs as well as on the Big Social media, where information is being shared with your existing customers as well as your future prospects. Facebook comments and Twitter activity by virtue of their broadcasting nature skew our analysis to negative and positive. But your own Product/user forums and other message boards, blogs and product/service review sites provides the business with both the anonymous and unconstrained discussions people have with each other. In fact, the beauty of such data is that you can understand the target audience of your product/service in different mindsets, with motivational, emphasis or intention related psychographic segmentation correlated with Topics extracted from the customer conversation around your brand, Support, Product/service, competition and the related contextual customer mood/sentiment.

Such conversation analysis on Big Social data and the universe of micro segmentation opportunities it exposes, ensure tangible and intangible business value. This ensures proactive product/customer experience management by business by looking ahead on what needs to be done, rather than rely on reactive strategies. This combined with your own internal customer data that reflects the interests of world at scale. If you want to proactively gain insights on what people are sharing/conversing in the social age and correlate that to your internal CRM data to understand service/ incident/problem dynamics and also decipher what new opportunities for communication and innovation exist, then, this is where Big Data and Analytics can play a proactive role in your organization.

All great insights need people. The key to accelerate the speed of insights is to engage the right technology, algorithms and tools (many a times open source, due to the extremely dynamic/evolving nature of BigData use cases and the exorbitant cost associated with proprietary technology ),that can  turbocharge your insight people, in turn , turbocharging your business towards tangible and intangible outcomes.

Having spent a good 16 years comprising both traditional structured analytics and Customer behavioral analysis , and moving on to the Big(volume & velocity) and unstructured data(variety) in the last couple of years, I can say that both has their pros and cons. The biggest redeeming factor, is to correlate both internal and external data and also the ability to reveal important insights on topics that we never thought to ask and the add-on pace to quickly test hypothesis in the data and refine for greater veracity or discard them.


What Organizations Need to Look For………………

My sense is that the real reason that BigData and analytics has not been more embraced by business in the right pace, is more due to the unconventional and drastic change in technological and human competencies that such companies do not yet have due to the various reasons cited earlier. For the modern age business to cross the chasm to “turbo charge and Grow Share with your “BIG” Social & CRM Data”, they will need to:

1)     Start thinking of BigData, not in its pure sense of “Bigness” in data (the volume/velocity), but also from the unstructured “Variety” data opportunity that it provides to uncover growth opportunities , the pace to insights of a larger population in the world at scale and improve the proactive approach to overall effectiveness from a brand/customer/prospect perspective

2)     Invest more time to understand the Big and unstructured data available in the form of customer/service interactions with your call center, and also listen to the larger audience on social media, blogs….

3)     Stop relying on automated/click of a button dashboards to provide deeper insights(this is like using Zoomerang or SurveyGizmo to do all your research)

4)     Age of the customer is not on its onset and neither is it going away, whether you are a B2C or a B2B business. There are readymade tools in the market to find powerful insights from customer data. However, when it comes to unstructured data, this technology is too often confused with activity dashboards and metrics and data decisions are driven by cost, not value.

Some of the innovative and thoughtful brands derive great value out of their unstructured data independently or in correlation with their internal structured data. However, they engage with a partner who understands your business, customer trends, and technology leverage/appetite for risks vs rewards and already have the specialist competencies to cater to your BigData and analytics requirements.


Word of Caution………

You need a partner who is able to offer you new ideas/insights using the latest relevant technology that can redefine your economic value, accelerate service delivery, and boost business performance to create and retain competitive differentiation.  The ability with such a partner to custom tailor the sophisticated Big Data and analytics to your requirements will eventually become the norm, but until it does, most generic attempt by product/tools vendors(Big/small) promoting themselves to be the one stop BigData analytics shop for deeper customer insights will produce disappointing results.


Authored By: Vivek Jayan, Analytics Expert

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