By Wayne Dick, Pre-Sales Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at HDS
The term ‘Big Data’ remains a buzzword for businesses, providing significant amounts of data to mine to gain important insights about who your customers are, as well as their thinking, behaviour and sentiments towards your business. However, for this data to truly have an impact, you need access to the right data quickly and easily. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has taken a major step towards achieving this by offering data warehouse optimisation, which has a wider reach towards improved data monetisation from greater client visibility.
A shift in the way data is managed and used
Large e-commerce retailers such as eBay, Amazon and Alibaba have developed an excellent view of their customers’ spending habit and interests, by not only storing this data but also mining it effectively. They use this information to communicate and interact with their customers to promote products that are relevant to them, thereby increasing new cross- and up-selling opportunities. Data mining has directly contributed to the success of these businesses. Whilst, established ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses face additional complexity such as compliance with regulations, complex operations and legacy systems, it is critical that they mine data effectively.
HDS’s focus has traditionally been in the enterprise space, providing high-end systems in the data centre for processing, storing and protecting customer information. Ensuring data is managed and protected effectively has been critical to businesses for the past 20 years as this is the heart of any business. Today we are beginning to see a shift in our customer’s priorities, due to the constantly increasing variety, volume and velocity of data streaming into organisations. Social media in particular is a relatively new consideration that generally doesn’t fit well into the traditional application or data warehouse systems but, can yield huge value to organisations through data analytics which can enable organisations to understand their customers’ thoughts, routines and perceptions.
HDS’s recent acquisition of data analytics company, Pentaho, offers businesses new data mining opportunities by simplifying the overall data warehouse and operational processes. This allows the blending of multiple data sources, including social media, into a centralised repository designed for flexibility and speed of analysis. The result is a much simpler and faster process of working out which data is relevant to your business and the ability to present this in a much simpler format. This brings our way of managing data much more in line with the way e-commerce businesses operate – in real time, with real results.
As soon as you have this type of information at your fingertips, you move from being reactive to being proactive and predictive when it comes to your customers’ interests, needs and desires. This allows you to make changes to your business not only to retain customers, but also to acquire new customers and reach new markets.
Identifying growth and retaining customers in the financial sector
Financial services can benefit significantly by leveraging customer data to discover new cross- and up-sell opportunities. By mining their data effectively, they can optimise operations by targeting high-value clients with custom recommendations, streamlining analytical processes by eliminating the need for specialised resources, and enhancing risk management systems with broader and deeper data analysis and reporting.
Risk management company, Risk Decisions, put this to the test when it integrated Pentaho into its Predict! Software. The result was the company being first to market with geo-mapping capabilities, along with experiencing revenue growth without investing significant resources to build its own reporting and analytic capabilities into the software.
Another important feature of data optimisation in the financial sector is its role in adequately identifying, verifying and analysing client details and transactions to ensure regulatory compliance and quickly detect fraud.
Balancing supply and demand in the retail space
Data optimisation also plays an important role in retail by helping retailers to build an intelligent supply chain that responds to production and demand signals. It becomes easier to monitor operations, controllable costs and capital spend to ensure profitability, as well as optimise merchandise levels and easily manage inventory levels.
Retailers can also better segment markets and understand customer buying behaviours with real-time visibility into point of sale, allowing for the implementation of market-driven pricing and promotion strategies. And visibility goes beyond the customer to help address under-performing stores, channels and employees.
It was this thinking that saw mobile wireless supplier, Ruckus Wireless, partner with Pentaho as part of its software application, Ruckus SmartCell. This resulted in large mobile carriers and broadband service providers receiving detailed visibility into network traffic, capacity, operation and performance on a large scale, with the knock-on effect of increased revenue.
The end result of this type of data optimisation is better managed operations in line with corporate strategy and targets.
From data storage to data monetisation
From here we move beyond simply looking at storing and mining data, to actually capturing and analysing it. Data monetisation, as this process is referred to, is a necessary component for your business to increase revenue generation.
Data warehouse optimisation not only has the potential to simplify the process of gathering and mining relevant data, but to apply this information to business processes and improve operations. This in turn gives you the potential to develop a strategy that takes into account who your customers are, what they need and how to make use of this information to implement strategies to maintain and grow your business.