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Crunching Big Data for Operations Management

Big data

For decades businesses have been using data in some way or another to improve their operations. For instance, an IT software could support small enterprises in their customer-facing processes. Alternatively, large corporations may possess complex systems that monitor and detect any changes in consumer sentiment towards brands.

Recently, many industry leaders, including McKinsey, IBM and SAS among others have released relevant studies on big data. It transpires that they are using similar terminology to describe big data as a “situation where the volume, velocity and variety of data exceed an organisation’s ability to use that data for accurate and timely decision-making” (SAS). These providers of business intelligence solutions have developed technical approaches to storing and managing enormous volumes of new data.

The handling and untangling of such data requires advanced and unique storage, management, analysis and visualisation technologies. The terms of “big data” and “analytics” are increasingly being used to describe data sets and analytical techniques in applications ranging from sensor to social media. Usually, big data analytics are dependent on extensive storage capacity and quick processing power requiring a flexible grid that can be reconfigured for different needs. For instance, streaming analytics process big data in real time during events to improve their outcome.

Insightful data could easily be retrieved from the Web, social media content and video data among other content. Notwithstanding, such data could be presented in different forms; ranging from recorded vocal content (e.g. call centre voice data) or it can even be genomic and proteomic data that is derived from biological research and medicine.
Big data is often used to describe the latest advances in technologies and architectures. Nowadays, big data and marketing information systems predict customer purchase decisions. This data could indicate which products or services customers buy, where and what they eat, where and when they go on vacation, how much they buy, and the like.

Giant retailers such as Tesco or Sainsbury every single day receive long-range weather forecasts to work 8-10 days ahead. Evidently, the weather affects the shopping behaviour of customers. For example, hot and cold weather can lead to the sales of certain products. It may appear that weather forecasting dictates store placement, ordering and supply (and demand) logistics for supermarket chains. Other retailers like Walmart and Kohl’s also use big data to tailor product selections and determine the timing of price markdowns.

Shipping companies, like U.P.S. are mining data on truck delivery times and traffic patterns in order to fine-tune their routing. This way the business will become more efficient and incur less operational costs. Therefore, big data extracts value by capturing, discovering and analysing very large volumes of data in an economic and expeditious way. This has inevitably led to a significant reduction in the cost of keeping data.

Big data can also be linked with production applications and timely operational processes that enable continuous improvements. Credit card companies are a good illustration of this dynamic as direct marketing groups at credit card companies create models to select the most likely customer prospects from a large data warehouse. Previously, the process of data extraction, preparation and analysis took weeks to prepare and organise. Eventually, these companies realised that there was a quicker way to carry out the same task. In fact, they created a “ready-to-market” database and system that allowed their marketers to analyse, select and issue offers in a single day. Therefore, this case indicates that businesses became much more effective (and efficient) in their processes through iterations and monitoring of websites and call-centre activities. They could also make personalised offers to customers in milliseconds as they kept tracking responses over time.

Organisations are increasingly realising the utility of data that could bring value through continuous improvements in their operations. This contribution indicated that relevant data needs to be captured, filtered and analysed. Big data is already swamping traditional networks, storage arrays and relational database platforms. The increased pervasiveness of digital and mobile activity, particularly from e-commerce and social media is leading to the dissemination of meaningful data – that is being created each and every second. Successful, online businesses can gain a competitive advantage if they are capable of gathering and crunching data.

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Contemporary Digital Marketing Channels

Also available here: http://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/contemporary-digital-marketing-channels-0683485

The new face of marketing is continuously evolving as businesses employ new technologies to satisfy customers’ needs and wants. Nowadays, print and media marketing are usually complemented by social media channels. There are many businesses who are investing time and effort on reaching their customers through FacebookTwitter and Linkedin. It may appear that digital marketing is shifting its focus on content and this recent development is not so surprising. After all, marketing and promotion have always relied on visual and interactive media such as TV ads, video clips and billboards. To remain competitive businesses often resort to new resources and technologies.  This contribution is putting forward some of the latest digital marketing tactics which are helping to raise awareness of businesses’ products or service offerings;


Infographics combine both information and graphics where inspiring ideas are presented in a relatively small space on web pages. These type of media which look like posters, feature relevant, top-quality content. They have to be as creative as possible. Of course, if corporate websites contain wrong infographics with erroneous data and / or misleading information, then it will backfire and will lead to negative results.  In this case businesses can possibly risk losing their positioning for their lack of professionalism. Therefore, infographics must be original and based on accurate data and content. Businesses need to communicate interesting yet informative stories in their content marketing. The idea is to create content that others like and will want to share through different social media. Therefore, the visuals need to be as vivid and colourful as possible.

Similarly, short video clips are gaining momentum among customers. Marketeers are increasingly uploading short, fun videos which often turn viral on Youtube.  It transpires that many businesses are coming up with innovative ways to engage with their consumers. Social video-sharing sites provide an opportunity for businesses to reach out to particular segments, such as teenagers and adolescents. Interestingly, sites like Vine, VimeoDaily Motion and more are catching up with a core group of users because of their ease of use.

In this day and age, consumers themselves are quickly becoming ambassadors for businesses’ products and services. For instance, Trip Advisor and Yelp offer trusted advice, opinions and reviews from real customers. Very often, customers are posting their pictures and experiences associated with products and brands on Instagram and Pinterest. Customers’ are often invited or rather pushed to share facebook statuses / tweets about business offers and deals as a requirement to take part in competitions. Businesses and customers alike have also learned how to use the hashtag (#) to enhance the visibility of their posting.

Numerous businesses are re-targeting their existing customers through email marketing. These businesses often deliver ads according to their customers’ interests. Such targeting is usually based on items customers have previously purchased or viewed. Alternatively, businesses may advertise and promote complementary products of previous purchases of individual customers. These efforts may turn out to be quite effective. Needless to say that consumers are becoming acquainted to ads on internet sites for the very same products and services they may have viewed elsewhere. Businesses are quickly recognising the benefits of re-targeting customers via e-mail. This trend is particularly beneficial if customers have developed an on-going, trustworthy relationship with the business per se. Hopefully, businesses are seen as helping customers, rather than invading their privacy.

Savvy marketers are quickly realising that they have to differentiate themselves than competitors. Indeed, businesses can achieve an advantage relative to others, if they offer unique selling propositions for their customers. This will be facilitated further if they enhance their presence on internet search results. Business have to find ways to get their ad message delivered to their customers. Conventional and digital marketing communications as well as search engine optimisation tools help to keep existing customers and attract new ones.

Today everyone is keeping up with multiple social media networks. Marketers are challenged to find new ways to leverage their business by creating fluidity between these ‘new’ channels. This cross-channel promotion can possibly include traditional print, media advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing if they want to reach many customer segments. Inevitably, businesses have to learn to incorporate social media into their marketing campaigns. This article posits how successful businesses and brands are making interactions with digital marketing in their strategic communications. Businesses are stepping in with their commitment to embrace social media. Shrewd marketers are the ones who are able to find new, innovative ways to get their messages across to customer bases. At the same time, it is important to keep customers engaged and satisfied with their offering.

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