10 companies that are using big data

Big data
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

23 September 2016

Big data is big business. Eleanor O'Neill takes a look at ten of the companies using data and analytics to gain a competitive edge.

The term 'big data' refers to extremely large sets of digital data that may be analysed to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to human behaviour and interactions.

Companies can use this information to their advantage; automating processes, gaining insight into their target market and improving overall performance using the feedback readily available.

Here we look at some of the businesses integrating big data and how they are using it to boost their brand success.

1. Amazon

The online retail giant has access to a massive amount of data on its customers; names, addresses, payments and search histories are all filed away in its data bank.

While this information is obviously put to use in advertising algorithms, Amazon also uses the information to improve customer relations, an area that many big data users overlook.

The next time you contact the Amazon help desk with a query, don't be surprised when the employee on the other end already has most of the pertinent information about you on hand. This allows for a faster, more efficient customer service experience that doesn't include having to spell out your name three times.

2. American Express

The American Express Company is using big data to analyse and predict consumer behaviour.

By looking at historical transactions and incorporating more than 100 variables, the company employs sophisticated predictive models in place of traditional business intelligence-based hindsight reporting.

This allows a more accurate forecast of potential churn and customer loyalty. In fact, American Express has claimed that, in their Australian market, they are able to predict 24% of accounts that will close within four months.

3. BDO

National accounting and audit firm BDO puts big data analytics to use in identifying risk and fraud during audits.

Where, in the past, finding the source of a discrepancy would involve numerous interviews and hours of manpower, consulting internal data first allows for a significantly narrowed field and streamlined process.

In one case, BDO Consulting Director Kirstie Tiernan noted, they were able to cut a list of thousands of vendors down to a dozen and, from there, review data individually for inconsistencies. A specific source was identified relatively quickly.

4. Capital One

Marketing is one of the most common uses for big data and Capital One are at the top of the game, utilising big data management to help them ensure the success of all customer offerings.

Through analysis of the demographics and spending habits of customers, Capital One determines the optimal times to present various offers to clients, thus increasing the conversion rates from their communications.

Not only does this result in better uptake but marketing strategies become far more targeted and relevant, therefore improving budget allocation.

5. General Electric (GE)

GE is using the data from sensors on machinery like gas turbines and jet engines to identify ways to improve working processes and reliability.

The resultant reports are then passed to GE's analytics team to develop tools and improvements for increased efficiency.

The company has estimated that data could boost productivity in the US by 1.5%, which, over a 20-year period, could save enough cash to raise average national incomes by as much as 30%.

6. Miniclip

Miniclip, who develop, publish and distribute digital games globally, use big data to monitor and improve user experience.

Due to the nature of the company and sector, customer retention is a priority for Miniclip in order to make games more profitable and, therefore, to support business growth.

Big data reporting, analysis, experimentation and machine learning data products allow the company to measure the successful elements of their products and implement them in future ventures, while also eliminating or improving the problematic components.

7. Netflix

The entertainment streaming service has a wealth of data and analytics providing insight into the viewing habits of millions of international consumers.

Netflix uses this data to commission original programming content that appeals globally as well as purchasing the rights to films and series boxsets that they know will perform well with certain audiences.

For example, Adam Sandler has proven unpopular in the US and UK markets in recent years but Netflix green-lighted four new films with the actor in 2015, armed with the knowledge that his previous work had been successful in Latin America.

8. Next Big Sound

Next Big Sound (NBS) has figured out how to use the data from Spotify streams, iTunes sales, SoundCloud plays, Facebook likes, Wikipedia page views, YouTube hits and Twitter mentions to predict the next big thing in music.

The company's analytics provide insight into social media popularity, the impact of TV appearances and many other nuggets of information that are invaluable to the music industry. Artists can also use the data for their own promotion, thanks to a partnership between NBS and Spotify.

Billboard now publishes two charts based exclusively on NBS’s data and they have worked with companies such as Pepsi and American Express to help steer billions being spent brands on music-related marketing and sponsorships.

9. Starbucks

Have you ever wondered how Starbucks can open three branches on the same street and not have their business suffer?

The coffeehouse behemoth uses big data to determine the potential success of each new location, taking information on location, traffic, area demographic and customer behaviour into account.

Making this kind of assessment before opening a store means Starbucks can make a fairly accurate estimation of what the success rate will be and choose locations based on the propensity toward revenue growth.

10. T-Mobile

The mobile network, like American Express, is combining customer transaction and interactions data to predict customer fluctuations.

By utilising internal information on billing and customer relations management along with data on social media usage, T-Moblie USA claims they halved customer defections within a single quarter.

The company has integrated the data gathering tools across its' IT systems.


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