When it comes to big data sales, understanding your customer’s business challenges is essential to helping them to understand the value of big data analytics. Of course, the business challenges differ with each application or industry, so as you look to build your big data sales pipeline, it’s best to focus on the vertical markets that have the greatest big data need, and will yield the best big data sales returns.
Hadoop is not a panacea for all business challenges. Just because you need insight from stored information doesn’t automatically mean you need big data. Or if you prefer, just because you are selling a hammer doesn’t mean customers need to buy nails. So to align your big data sales strategy with the real-world analytic requirements of your customers, think about big data falling into one of three basic areas:
1. Business Intelligence
Since the birth of computing, analysts have been developing business intelligence (BI) products designed to extract information from mountains of data. BI tools mine data warehouses to generate sales figures, inventory numbers, and answer questions about “what happened?” However, conventional BI is less valuable at telling you “what is going to happen?” This is where BI meets big data.
For better planning and decision-making, you need better intelligence about what is likely to happen based on what occurred in the past. Doing “what if” is harder because it usually requires unstructured data since you don’t predict the questions in advance. This is where you can make the big data sale.
One of the benefits of having more efficient storage and faster computing capability is you can capture data now and analyze it later. With big data applications and Hadoop, you need to worry less about the form you use to capture the data. It makes it easier to structure questions about “known unknowns” and get meaningful answers.
2. Sales and Marketing
A specific business application for big data is optimizing sales. The big objective is to sell more stuff more often, and make more money more efficiently. Analytics to optimize sales and marketing has to focus on things like web analytics, advertising response, message effectiveness, and other elements. It’s all about assessing the company’s relationship with the customer using data from various areas.
With the addition of online marketing and the Web, the sources of marketing metrics to assess has grown exponentially. There are multiple contact points using different media and messages. The process has evolved from a simple mailer or phone call so today, every click, like, tweet, repost, and comment has to be tracked to determine what’s working to fill the sales funnel and what isn’t.
Big data makes it easier to assimilate and assess information from multiple points of contact, determining what works, with which market segment, and why. It gives that “360-degree view” of the customer’s likes, dislikes, habits, foibles, and more. Big data analytics make it possible to track consumers online and offline. For example, tracking customers using mobile hardware, like smartphones, can reveal where they go, how long they wait in lines, and more to optimize store traffic. Your big data sales opportunity is helping your clients discover more about their customers than they ever knew was possible.
3. Civil Engineering and Government
The third area of big data opportunity is addressing social issues like urban planning and government. Data mining has been used for years to model population growth, voter behavior, disease outbreaks, traffic patterns, school performance, and more. The revelations from these kinds of reports are interesting, but not always actionable. Government agencies and contractors need insight they can really work with.
Failing infrastructure, budget shortfalls, overcrowding, and other issues are creating real problems for government agencies that they are having difficulty understanding, let alone solving. Government is drowning in data, and with new technology the amount of data just keeps growing. Government is going digital and relying more and more on emerging technology like smartphones to keep their citizens informed. As a result, government has access to more information about their citizens than ever before. Big data lets them use analyze that information.
Big data is not only useful for plotting out new strategies to improve people’s lives, it also helps settle arguments. Big data can point the way to solutions for many social ills, and as the larger cities and government bodies adopt big data to guide decision-making, you can be sure demand for big data will trickle down to smaller cities and agencies.
These three areas promise the greatest growth in the coming years, where the IT dollars are going to be spent, and where you should be focusing your big data sales efforts.