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Big Data: a retailer's currency for competitive advantage

Posted by Balaji Desikamani (View Profile | View All Posts) | January 22, 2013 11:09 AM

I loved it when a Infosys Vice President , Sandeep Dadlani opened his statement at a panel discussion at TUCON 2012, Las Vegas with a 'Big Data is the B-word we don't want to speak about'. He could not have said it better. There has been much spotlight on Big Data and it is important to realize what it can do for a business especially retailers than stand in awe and reverence to all the statistics being thrown around in the name of Big Data.

Cutting the chase to where it matters - in a gloomy economy, retailers are struggling more than ever. Consumer spending seems to dip at a steady pace; Pressure on margins is high and competition is forcing prices down. And digital consumers are forcing retailers to re-think customer service and fulfillment experience. 

So what's the currency that retailers can look to leverage? Look around and one will see that data and information are the only 'underutilized', 'over-abundant' assets within an enterprise. There are enough statistics to awe even a visiting alien in terms of the data we produce and multiply. Take this one for example - I read that humans doubled all the volume of information they had produced in the last five thousand, ten thousand years of history in the last 8 months flat. Now, convert all that into HD movies and it will take me more than 8000 years to watch it all. Frankly, the way I see it, the volume and variety elements of data do not matter anymore. Both abound in plenty. What matters now is the velocity with which I get the information a business looks for and the accuracy of that information thereby reducing the risk of failure.

So the real value of Big Data for retailers is not in 'Big Data' itself, it is in the application of smarter, better and accurate analytics in micro segmentation, price optimization,  more expansive demographic profiles, real-time predictive demand and supply  forecasting, real-time analytics for the best offer, generating and managing customer loyalty.  This application of Big Data can be the single biggest currency for an retailer to seize opportunities in the market and increase market share & as they call it - "share of the wallet". 

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