The consumer market today is becoming more and more competitive and companies are struggling to offer something unique to their consumers. To be able to do that, companies need to understand the consumers better. The primary way to get meaningful consumer insights is to analyse the existing data collected from users. These insights can then be used not only to continue selling the products but provide customised events and service, which are available at a premium.
This trend is fairly common in new age industries such as e-commerce, even traditional, centuries-old industries greatly benefit from big data and analytics applications. For example, by installing sensors and subsequently analysing them, a railway operator can analyse their fixed and rolling assets. Big data analytics can identify when to carry out preventive maintenance on assets such as bridges and railway lines, increasing economic life and reducing downtime. Hence, data is not just benefitting new-age industries, but the traditional industries as well.
Here are some of the most commonly used big data applications around you, across industries:
Companies collect data of individual customers, the type of purchases they’re making and more importantly where they’re making the purchases. Based on this information, companies are able to segment customers according to their buying behavior. They then make predictions on what they will be buying in the future. This data is also used to cross-sell or upsell items, with the help of attractive offers on these new items.
Another big use of data in analytics is to map areas or locations, as well known by everyone who uses Uber or Ola or Google Maps. Even food delivery apps and other apps that deliver goods to your doorsteps know where you live/work, etc. A huge amount of data gets captured every time you order and it includes all location characteristics in it. This information is also mined from a public policy perspective to look for traffic jams and also for taking decisions like setting up public transportation facilities such as metro stations.
The advent of big data has had a huge impact on the energy sector. Big data involves a large number of sensors and data collection methodologies which have allowed for the setting up of large systems for preventive maintenance. It enables better forecasting of demand. For example, ten years ago, there were no smart meters. Now, the power utility sector has very good information on how their consumers are consuming their power, the time, and the load that is consumed. This is actually helping them to make their investment decisions much faster. These industries are becoming more efficient both in terms of cost and in operation.
Every operator is searching for new ways to increase profits during a time of stagnant and competitive growth in the industry. Here is where telecom companies are advancing rapidly in terms of being able to capture data and use it wisely for a variety of uses. Companies around the world are using big data to gain market share with targeted promotions, combating fraud, improving customer experiences and designing newer product offerings.
This sector is actually now trying to become more connected. Self-driving cars that we all already know about is one of the biggest buzzwords. Underneath it, to make this possible, there is a huge amount of technology that vehicles are collecting, gathering and using in conjunction to come up with these advancements. Increased government encouragement of electric vehicles requires location analytics to establish charging stations.
What lies ahead?
The only thing that is going to hold back the Big Data industry is the number of people who are skilled in it. The big data applications are actually limitless. There is a huge demand for skilled people at all levels from project managers to raw beginners. As a practitioner who’s been in this industry for some time, I can tell you that there is a huge demand. Companies are facing a talent problem at all levels and the solutions also have to come from different sources, such as increased access to education, training initiatives by companies, awareness spreading by the government.
The 11-month BITS Pilani and UpGrad program for working professionals is exactly the type of program that we need to help people who are ambitious, keen on furthering their careers and following their passions. I think a course like this is very useful because you have a large number of people who come from the industry and are excited to teach. Students will benefit a lot from learning hands-on and through practitioners directly. I am fairly certain that it will involve a lot of problem-solving and casework type methodology. So, I think people are going to have fun while they’re at it. I think that’s especially important when you are doing something on your weeknights and weekends.
Views shared in this blog are the author’s personal views and they do not reflect the official stance of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) or any of the author’s clients.