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Big Data Making Businesses Bigger In 2015

by Ashish Pachory, CIO, Tata Teleservices Ltd. September-2015

Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) is one of India's leading private telecom service providers, having a pan-India presence across all of India's 19 telecom Circles. The company offers integrated telecom solutions to its customers under the unified brand name Tata Docomo and operates its wireless networks on GSM, CDMA and 3G technology platforms.

With the advent of big data analysis in today's competitive enterprise world, businesses are increasingly embracing the concept of 'you can't manage if you don't measure'. A recent academic research found that companies that have incorporated data and analytics into their operations show productivity rates 5 to 6 per cent higher than those of their peers. The reason is simple: the more information a brand has on its consumer, the better it is able to predict their buying behavior; leading to an increased chance of sale through bespoke product and service offers.

Big Data as Business Transformer

Typically, there are three steps to data mining and interpretation - recognizing what is happening, analyzing how and why it is happening, and leveraging the information. This is the core of using big data; the ability to suggest products based on who you are, what you look at and what you've bought. Several big Indian brands are working to harness consumer data from every available source to make their enterprises customer-centric.

By combining big data and high-powered analytics, it is possible to determine root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time, potentially saving billions of dollars annually. It could translate into optimizing routes for many thousands of package delivery vehicles - while they are on the road; analysing millions of SKUs to determine prices that maximize profit and clear inventory; generating retail coupons at the point of sale based on the customer's current and past purchases; sending tailored offer recommendations to mobile devices based on the customer's locations; recalculating entire risk portfolios in minutes; immediately identifying customers who matter the most and also using clickstream analysis and data mining to detect fraudulent behaviour.

At one of the big retail chain stores in India, through data collected via their loyalty programme subscriber base, the retailer found that the average yearly spend of customers who buy both men's shirts and trousers is 60 per cent more than that of customers who buy only shirts, and three times that of those who don't buy men's shirts at all. This helped them list 9 lakh customers for targeted 'trousers communication'. With this equation in place, the retail chain raked in Rs 9 crore worth of additional sales in a three-week period, a lift of 30 per cent. Similarly in Singapore, one of the credit card companies keeps an eye on customers' credit card transactions for opportunities to recommend discounts in restaurants. One of the leading automobile brands in India also claim that being able to mine data better has helped increase their sales by 4 percent last year.

A corollary of data analytics is the possibility of generating additional revenue since retailers are the point of contact between stockists and consumers. FMCG players have globally started buying data/insights gleaned by retailers. Also, as per a recent survey carried out by Jaspersoft, with respondents who are in the software developing, internet, computer, financial and government business, it is seen that the confusion towards big data is reduced and the commitment towards making good use of it is on the rise. The survey found that 56 percent of respondents had big data project plans. The number of companies that funded a big data strategy had doubled since their last survey in 2012, but still 20 percent of the represented organizations did not see any business justification for moving ahead with big data. This leaves enough scope for the future of big data to be further explored and brought into action for impactful business.

Big Data IS the Future

Another recent study claimed that 96 percent of the companies surveyed admitted that they could do more with big data and make better use of analytics in their organization. Indian companies are at different levels of data maturity — some companies are struggling to visualise their data while others are using predictive models and real-time analytics to drive decisions. Agile analytics and campaign management tools used by new generation analytics companies have made the technology affordable for Indian companies, strengthening the promise of greater big data integration by businesses in the future. The Indian government too is recognizing the value of big data insights when it comes to issues like national security and public safety. Big data analytics deployment can help better map India's landscape and uncover complex patterns of connections between people, places and events.

Aside from the promise of being able to pluck out insights for companies, big data is also betting it can solve some of society's most serious issues such as crime, cancer and conflicts. Information is the lifeline of our age – not only for business but for institutions across the spectrum. It is humankind's biggest asset. It is constantly being created and growing richer by the minute. Transforming this asset into actionable insights can help businesses gain a new perspective, fix what is wrong and discover new horizons. Big Data is here. It is not another well-tossed transformational brew stirred up by hype, but an indispensible instrument of value creation that has every ingredient to make businesses BIG!