Big Data in Retail & Other Observations

Big Data, is the next hot thing in IT space and companies will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate and compete.
Big Data in Retail & Other Observations

Big Data, being the next hottest thing in IT space is a new terminology which has come up. It is described as an exponential growth and availability of data both in structured and unstructured forms, which is defined by its volume, velocity, variety, variability and complexity.

With the advent of cloud, there was lot of confusion in Big Data. Many of the database vendors and firms tried to put all data in one or more databases considering the fact that it would solve the Big Data issue. However, it’s not big, but large data not properly segmented and segregated, which needs to be addressed through database federation, and standard business intelligence and analytics.

Therefore, over a period of time, the demand of Big Data has risen, by Fortune 1000 companies, Government bodies, and SMEs. It has various benefits, which are not limited to understanding the fact that big data is not a single technology, technique or initiative, but how we can utilise the data for improving the business service and solution. Simply put, it can be done by harnessing relevant data and analysing it to find answers that enable cost and time reductions, new product development, product offerings, smarter decisions, etc.

In the current scenario, Big Data also has its own challenges which need to be tackled using innovative and smart methods. It needs to resolve the issues like analysing, capturing, curating, searching, sharing, storage, transferring, visualising and privacy violations. A need to segregate and segment big data in smaller segments becomes a priority to get better results and reports for studies and scope for improvisation. Businesses nowadays are generating much more data more than what their systems were designed to handle in terms of volume.

Big Data Will Help the Retail Industry in Many Ways

Some important factors to look into are: Personalisation, flexibility in pricing, customer service, managing fraud, supply chain visibility, predictive analytics.

Personalisation: Merchants can provide a personalised experience to their customers, which include content and promotions through multiple touch points and being able to provide a variety in different ways in real time which would look attractive and sticky.

Provide Consumers to Checkout Pricing Updates: It will dynamically change based on competition in other places of products similar to yours, which would require taking data from multiple sources such as competitor pricing, product sales, regional preferences, customer actions, etc. This will be needed to determine the right price to close the sale. Overcoming this challenge will give the business a huge competitive advantage.

Providing Excellent Customer Service is critical for the success of any business, but seems a bit of a challenge due to multiple communication mediums which need to be processed as one to provide a rich customer service solution and make the customer feel valued in a quicker resolution.

Detecting Fraud should be a top-most priority, but requires the right infrastructure. The business needs to detect fraud in real time.

Customers Need to Know the Exact Availability, status and location of their orders. This can get complicated if there are multiple third parties involved in the supply chain. It can be resolved by providing a platform to connect commerce, warehousing and transportation functions all integrated as one.

Lastly, providing Predictive Analysis is crucial to all retails. Regardless of size, it’s difficult to sustain business without any analytics. Through predictive analysis businesses can identify events prior from occurring and help in avoiding any issues which might create losses.

Shortcomings and Positive Sides

After years of extensive research and study, it was found that there is a rise in demand for Big Data expertise knowledge in various sectors of retail. Across the world, there are a lot of vacancies available because of shortage of qualified manpower. As per Mckinsey, the US will face a shortage of about 190,000 Data Scientists by 2018 and, then, a shortfall of 1.5 million managers and analysts who can understand and make decisions using Big Data.

In India, there is a huge demand for offshore analytics work. The size of analytics market will evolve to 1/3rd of the current global IT market, but the skill-sets and scarcity of analytics talent would be limiting its growth. Data Scientists who can perform analytics and analytics consultants who can understand and use data will be far less than required, and hence, there would be a need for quality and quality assessment due to which India is going to be short of at least a million data consultants.

The need for talent is growing at a steady pace, but nothing significant is happening on the supply side. Institutes need to create an ecosystem for learning and experimenting with Big Data in a simple, yet sophisticated manner.

On the positive side, Big Data will not only help companies in making strategy decisions, harnessing all enterprise data analytics resulting into stronger business, but also will be able to manage data better to make all the clustered data structured. The structured data will be easier to manage; it will help in quick operations and analytical workloads, increase competitive advantage with flexibility of data used in business services, etc.

Notes on Big Data

The use of big data will become the key basis for competition and growth of individual firms. From the standpoint of competitiveness and the potential capture of value, all companies need to take big data seriously. In most industries, established competitors and new entrants alike will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate, compete, and capture value from deep and up-to-real-time information. Indeed, we found early examples of such use of data in every sector we examined.

The use of big data will underpin new waves of productivity growth and consumer surplus. For example, we estimate that a retailer using big data to the full has the potential to increase its operating margin by more than 60 per cent. Big data offers considerable benefits to consumers as well as to companies and organisations. For instance, services enabled by personal-location data can allow consumers to capture $600 billion in economic surplus.

While the use of big data will matter across sectors, some sectors are set for greater gains. We compared the historical productivity of sectors in the United States with the potential of these sectors to capture value from big data (using an index that combines several quantitative metrics), and found that the opportunities and challenges vary from sector to sector. The computer and electronic products and information sectors, as well as finance and insurance, and government are poised to gain substantially from the use of big data.

There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organisations to take advantage of big data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

Several issues will have to be addressed to capture the full potential of big data. Policies related to privacy, security, intellectual property, and even liability will need to be addressed in a big data world. Organisations need not only to put the right talent and technology in place but also structure workflows and incentives to optimise the use of big data. Access to data is critical—companies will increasingly need to integrate information from multiple data sources, often from third parties, and the incentives have to be in place to enable this.

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