How businesses can effectively use big data

Posted by Justin Hesser on August 21, 2012

The term "big data" has steadily risen in the business world as a way for owners and executives to understand how well their operations are performing. But, the actual definition of the term and how the information is used has remained very vague. Still, a London-based consulting firm and a major industry voice have some ideas on how companies should approach this dynamic way of understanding business.

According to a study by Beyond Analysis, the consulting firm, big data should be used as a way to gain a holistic understanding of company's customers and adjust marketing and customer service operations toward that comprehensive picture. This can be done by using custom database software to maintain statistics on the relevant lifestyle, demographic and affluence measures and then turn those into customer patterns and models.

"Our study conducted over a period of three years surprised us by highlighting just how many businesses are taking the wrong approach to understanding their data," said Paul Alexander, CEO of Beyond Analysis. "But even more concerning is the amount of poor advice being offered. We are well versed in big data having worked in this field having worked with our partner Visa Europe for three years and understand that it isn't all about 'machines' but actually customer understanding and what you do with this information to deliver real, tangible results."

Forbes Magazine also recommends that companies use big data as a means to answer three important questions: "How is my business doing?"," What drives my business?" and "Who are my customers?, what are their needs?"

While Beyond Analysis emphasizes the customer service aspect of analyzing big data, the source recommends that companies consider all three questions at the same time. Custom database software can help with this method by providing one location to house the data relevant to each focus, allowing executives and managers more efficient access to critical information.