Data science is much more about communication than writing code, says data scientist Oleg Masajlo
15. 12. 2015
Reading time: 4 minutes
You certainly do not love promotional offers that devour your email inbox, or telephone offers by sales staff that do not even address your current needs, or simply lack the necessary appeal to action. And now from the business perspective of your business: How do you feel when you perceive that your sales efforts result only bring about only a glimmer of success? Big data helps you (Big Data), by performing analysis which can detect even slight differences in customer behaviour, and to better personalize your communication.
Solutions for hundreds of millions before, now ten times cheaper
Although modern techniques for working with data have been ready for a long time and there are even more efficient and affordable platforms, no companies work with big data over extended operations in the Czech Republic. It’s almost a paradox, we realized the fact that in the past the cost of storing and processing data often almost exceeded their own value and contributing and implementing the actual hardware and software solutions cost nearly a hundred million crowns. Today you can get a comparable solution at one tenth the cost.
Finance, telecommunications and even online sales – they are all toying with Big Data
Take the banking sector, for example. Big banks generate billions of data per day! Information on payments, the guidelines of internet banking, account balances, details about other products used by clients or records from call centres. A whole range of data must legally be kept by these institutions, even for several years. But why should it be left lying fallow? Banks themselves over time realized that they could extract a lot from it, enabling them to better target and sell its other products. Efficient, don’t you think? Additionally, management has changing requirements and needs – reverse reporting is no longer in fashion, the priority is rather to look into the future and be able to better predict potential events.
The benefits of big data may not belong only to large companies. It is useful even for midsize companies with large production or technology infrastructure or for companies with a wealth of information about clients.
Third-party data allows a deeper look into the crystal ball
Data today knows no borders. The trend is integrating it with third-party data – information from trade registers, the commercial register, social networking or telecommunications operators. Going back to the example of the banking sector, thanks to the synergy of such data, a bank can, for example, find out who traded with whom and who paid whom. Suddenly, it is fairly easy to guess what drove company XY insolvent – its suppliers will very likely have to resolve shortfalls in their revenue in the near future. And what will be the bank’s reaction? Rush in at that moment with a suitable loan offer so business results can continue to grow.
The speed of data processing is key
Accurately targeting campaigns must be based on sure footing. Thanks to quality analysis of the collected data, the success of commercial offers can increase up to ten times, which is certainly worth considering. The challenge on the other side is also the speed of data processing. Consider the cycle: millions of bank data flowing back and forth are processed within one to three days into a readable and evaluable form. Then take part of them to the marketing department, the call center for business. Three months of work go by and the effort is over. The result? In many cases, only a few percent are profitable. However, during the scramble for data and processing it, clients for whom we have tailored an offer to have a lot of time to choose something completely different, maybe for an offer from a competitor. Our work has been for nothing.
Technology currently enables us to shorten these endless deadlines and offer advisors and traders information almost in real time. Utopia? Not at all. Large corporations like banks are slowly learning this new business trend of the future: the art of perceiving the nuances of customer behavior, and responding promptly and turn them into a business opportunity.
Big Data = a big mouthful for food marketing?
Retail chains and supermarkets are one of the other areas that can reap the benefits of working with big data. In fact, they can generate a large amount of useful information such as data on receipts. Through their analysis, they can offer well-targeted offers and discounts on their goods at the appropriate time. Again, citing one example: you lower the price of bread. By analyzing the data you find that a large portion of customers also buys butter or ham with it. As a result, you can calculate that it is unnecessary to also reduce the price on butter or ham – you would be depriving yourself of the full profit margin.
Data does not lend itself to just special offers and discounts; it is also useful in having well-ordered food on supermarket shelves. A shrewd businessman puts goods that are most frequently bought together far apart, forcing the customer to go through at least part of the store; not just leaving with a lump of butter, ham and a loaf of bread in half-empty basket, right?
Investing in data processing is simply worth it – costs are falling and revenue is growing. This is what we all want after all, is not it? Maybe you are thinking: “I could also just use common sense.” Maybe, but it also has its pitfalls. For example, if it is raining, people buy (logically) more umbrellas. Yes, but the condition (as confirmed by data analysis) is that only if it will rain at least two days in a row. Only then sales will grow and it will make sense to put the umbrellas next to the cash registers. Similar findings will offer the only system that works with millions of data about entries and also on the data, for example, in this particular case the weather.
In conclusion, a practical example
One of the largest banks in the Czech market, ČSOB, is well-aware of the potential of working with large data files and their use. Their project HledaSe-Obchod.cz offers interested parties the option of marking the location where they feel there is a lack of certain stores or services. The system is simple – drop a pin on the map and by the number of votes the response and suitability of a company for the locality can be monitored. If we connect third-party information and then let everything be crunched by a functional data system, then the most suitable options are simply generated. The system evaluates the amenities, the competition in the area, population density and movement of people (i.e. heat maps), which makes it is possible to offer specific projects to smaller entrepreneurs in the area. In this way, the bank that can attract new clients, become a true partner and provide a service with really high added value.
Investing in systems for processing large data thus has a very high return. The product portfolio is possible to manage efficiently and provide added value when prospective customer actually wants to use it. It is simply a priceless solution that helps you work with the appropriate data at the right time. Do you agree?