Big Data: A Big Impact on Efficiency?

15 min read

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Jonny Pathan

By 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information per person will be created every second. Digital data is accumulating at an exponential rate and businesses have more big data at their disposal than ever before.

Immense volumes of structured and unstructured data mean that businesses have to find cost-effective forms of data processing, so big data can be used to improve strategies, make smarter decisions and stay agile.

As well as long-term changes, data allows businesses to identify insights and make immediate decisions.

Big data analytics is making it easier to analyse business decisions and trajectory more objectively.

“How are we doing?” becomes less of an airy question and one that delivers a practical, data-driven answer.

Instead of creating more complexity, with more data – big data analytics can create more simplicity, more opportunity and more customer-focused experiences.

Often, it can be overwhelming for businesses to intelligently use their data and generate meaningful insight. But instead of generating knowledge, businesses need to harness data as a learning tool to stay competitive in fast-paced industries.

The Challenges

When you’re dealing with large datasets, your business needs high-performance analytics to make sense of the information you have and create timely insights.

Playing chess on a desk
Big Data Analytics

And there are other challenges faced by businesses too when balancing their desire to innovate in their field:

Other Challenges

  • Which datasets and data points are the most important to collect? Data is moving and dynamic and it can be a complex task to try and determine which pieces of data will help you to align with your business goals. This can lead to inertia and avoidance. Learning to overcome a culture of anxiety and change your business mindset into something more dynamic, rather than fixed will suit a rapidly changing business landscape.
  • Deciding on the analytics tools to use to process data. What will be cost effective for your business? And with so many tools on offer and so many tools needed to process data properly, businesses must think about their budget and time constraints. There’s a balancing act that needs to happen to find the right combination of tools to efficiently generate value. Having a cohesive tool is probably the biggest challenge with big data analytics.
  • Taking action and using data to create change is an ideal scenario, but knowing what to do and how to turn data into meaningful nuggets of information takes skill and expertise.
  • Using data for efficiency in a way that doesn’t compromise the privacy of your customers or employees. With GDPR coming into play in May 2018 [read our guide here] – your business needs to get clued up on the impact that GDPR will have on data collection processes and your ability to use and harness big data. This also means that you need to check out the third-party data processing companies you work with and check their GDPR preparation will be watertight.

That said, data-driven business decisions are part and parcel of today’s digital landscape. In fact, between 2015-2016, data-driven marketing campaigns increased by 60%.

There is a massive market demand for beneficial data.

Graphs and charts displaying big data report

And when you take a look at this data collected by Harvard Business Review about how companies are using big data – another challenge is the major disruption that can incur with the insights collected from big data.

  • 41.5% of the respondents hadn’t seen any value with regards to establishing a data-driven culture yet. This isn’t surprising. Being data-literate and able to understand data-culture is a specific skill that isn’t always encouraged company-wide.
  • There are usually analysts or people that use data in their own distinct departments. For a culture change, there needs to be more data education and training, so that teams understand the value of big data and are more comfortable with the decisions that are made and informed by data.

The Benefits of Big Data

Being more efficient with your processes is one of the top priorities for businesses everywhere.

Cost-cutting and time-saving are two of the key elements that come under the umbrella of efficiency.

Breaking this down a little further, there is a multitude of business operations for small business and start-ups that can be streamlined or informed with more precisions with big data.

A person reading a Business news paper
There is a multitude of business operations for small business

Using analytics tools that harness data management, in-memory analytics, machine learning capability, text and data mining features can lead to business decisions that you’d never considered before.

By 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information per person will be created every second. Digital data is accumulating at an exponential rate and businesses have more big data at their disposal than ever before.

Let’s look at a few examples:

1. Better User Design

Branding elements can be costly and time-heavy, so if marketers and designers have the ability to use machine-generated tools to create early designs from a customer’s subjective input, they can save time and avoid the back-and-forth nature of the creative process.

A person using an Ipad
Better User Design

Designers can use a database of design data that’s been generated from best practices and user input, so their work can be informed by trends, patterns and feedback. This can lead to better results, earlier on.

2. Better Content

Delivering timely, relevant and valuable content is an important part of a good content strategy for any business.

Insight from big data can tighten these processes, even more, when it comes to content distribution.

An analytics platform can give you data about the best times to send content based on activity rates and engagement rates, using their own user-generated feedback from millions of other campaigns. This can improve your own conversion rates.

A dispaly showing average daily viewers stats
Better Content

You can generate accurate data about the best windows of time to engage with customers and auto-schedule content. And the same can be done with social media campaigns and the insight gained can be invaluable.

3. Better E-Commerce Sales

Big data can have big implications for your sales strategy. As well as helping your business to be more cost-efficient, you can look at ways to boost your sales too.

With optimized pricing, you can generate real-time data about your customers’ purchasing behaviours. You can track purchases and customer trends on your platform, making changes and creating offers that can lead to more sales. Differentiating pricing strategies can help you to make more sales.

A group of people analysing a web site
Better E-Commerce Sales

Data also allows you to make smarter decisions about your inventory, forecasting the need for new stock based on trends, seasonal changes etc.

4. Better Conversation Rates

Analytics can give your business information about how leads and traffic have got from one point to another in a customer journey. Or not, as the case may be.

Where are you losing traffic and where exactly are customers dropping off?

You can use data to drill deeper and really get a sense of how your customers are behaving on your site and any roadblocks that are preventing them from navigating through a customer journey and getting from A to B.

There are so many variables that can impact customers, so getting a sense of what is and isn’t working will help drive better decision making and design.

Data can help you to become more customer-focused and enhance the customer experience you’re providing.

Check out our article on how great UX design can increase your conversion rates.

5. Better Personalisation

Customers are looking for more personalised experiences with businesses, where their needs, interests and behaviours are addressed. A distinct lack of personalisation annoys around 75% of customers.

Data can help you to craft better and more detailed audience personas and segment your target audiences with more information. A good place to start is with Google Optimise, an area we’ve covered before.

The key is to deliver relevant and timely recommendations. For example, data lets your business come up with personalized product recommendations by using customer purchase history or using tools like chatbots to learn more about customer preferences.

This is where big data can enable your business to learn more about customers and create a more meaningful, personal connection by providing pure value.

A Different Culture

As a business, you’re looking for ways to make your processes more efficient and this inevitably includes the people you employ too.

A selection of sylish office paraphernalia on a desk

Can big data help to make your team safer, happier and more efficient? Some people think so and there are inbuilt tools in lots of CRM systems to keep tabs on teams.

  • There’s software that helps you to keep tabs on the time taken on specific tasks, time spent in meetings, breaks and how long contractors are spending on projects etc.
  • You might decide it’s more efficient to reduce the working day or change it to different hours based on data that shows when your team are most efficient.
    Happy employees are productive employees, so you can implement more team-building, training, breaks, reward-systems, promotion processes to suit your findings.
  • In high-risk industries, you can keep employees safe by monitoring how much they’re working and where they are, so you can safeguard their well-being.
    Over a long-term period, you can assess whether the time spent by your team on certain projects is worth it when looking at the revenue it generates. You can make changes to the services you offer, so you’re utilising your team properly.
  • Use smart data from other devices to create optimum working conditions for your team – i.e mood music, heating or air conditioning, encouraging water breaks.

However, big data analytics aren’t always worth blindly pursuing.

You don’t have to measure every element and measuring and tracking employees can seriously damage trust over time.

If it makes sense for your business and more crucially, your employee’s wellbeing then using big data to improve conditions can be beneficial.

Compromises over efficiency are worth it if your team are happy, feel trusted and don’t want to be part of a surveillance culture.

Attracting Talent

As we mentioned, one of the key challenges with big data analytics is knowing what to do with your data and how to meaningfully use it.

You need the right expertise and talent to take data points and turn them into actionable processes.

Without talent, your data can be rendered meaningless, or worse – the right meaning is neglected and your business fails to adapt or makes changes based on rubbish data.

A Person reviewing stats on a tablet
Without talent, your data can be rendered meaningless

Talent is one of the key variables in your business and something that can differentiate you from the rest of your competition when it comes to big data.

And if you can find team members with more than singular skills, you can create a more cohesive environment and better conditions for good data analysis.

Every business is on the lookout for the best talent, so how can your business ensure that you’re offering an attractive value proposition to the right people:

  • Emphasise that team members that are working with big data have got the chance to seriously impact the direction of your business and be at the forefront of business outcomes.
  • Effectively communicating that new talent can be change-makers will be an exciting challenge.
  • Offer good training programmes for employees to build their skill set and enable them to do better and more effective things with the data you’re collecting. Allowing your team to increase their confidence and technical expertise
  • Showing that the work the team carries out with big data has a broad impact outside of the company too.

Adapting to a Changing Landscape

Data-driven insight gives businesses more choice and opportunity for innovation than ever before.

Instead of decisions solely based on instinct, a culture of big data in your business can lead to some exciting changes.

Fine-tuning campaigns, making real-time sales decisions and optimising your content are just a couple of ways your business can use big data to improve your offering to customers and become more customer-focused.

An arial shot of a big city skyline
Adapting to a Changing Landscape

But you must invest in the right tools, the right data sets and crucially, the right people in order to use big data properly.

Changing the culture in your business from a fixed mindset to a more dynamic, flexible mindset will suit the type of learning environment that big data needs in order to get results.

You can make quicker, smarter decisions by using data, artificial intelligence, and streamlining your processes. Whilst also helping to make your business and employees more efficient.

If your business doesn’t adapt to a big data mindset, it’ll be more difficult to meaningfully compete within your industry. Big data doesn’t have to take over, but by opening up your business to data-driven change, you’ll future-proof your business.