Sandeep Sharma
Guest Article

Taking the Bull called 'Big Data' by the Horn

Data is just the beginning. Managers who can marry analytic based insights with wisdom gained through years of experience stand a better chance of avoiding failure.

The evolution of data as an information tool to a business growth driver tool has led to the advent of data science emerging as a powerful field in learning, application and business development and thus, help businesses take that quantum leap in properly understanding their customer and serving them with cutting-edge efficiency.

Taking the Bull called 'Big Data' by the Horn

Sandeep Sharma

Over the next five years data consumption per individual is expected to go up 100 times; that is how much data is going to impact and play a role in our lives. This will transform and shape consumer behaviour, influence and impact the way businesses are run and also disrupt skills and education requirements for the future generation as technology disruption will be the engine driving this rapid evolution.

However, this will also lead to challenges as making sense out of a data overload will require skill and will lead to more and more dependence of machine learning and artificial intelligence interpretation and analysis.

Big data mining is akin to mining gold. You have to sift through tons of sludge to get an ounce of the yellow metal; similarly, you need to sift through large swathes of data to unlock maybe 1 per cent of useful data that helps unlock insights that are valuable to your business. But these are the insights that have the power to propel your business to the next level and hence, derive their true value. It is really about big insights from big data.

Businesses, irrespective of their sector or category, today, are obsessed with buzzwords like AI, IoT, Blockchain, and Machine Learning. There seems to be a global glut for these technologies and everyone who's anyone is making a beeline to get their hands wet. A whole lot of these are in the experimentation and development stage, thus, a lot of money and tech hours will be burnt in trying to unravel their mysteries. Hopefully, on the way, we will see some mind-boggling successes as well. All this should keep everyone honest and grounded in the long term about the expectations from new-age tech and more importantly, ways to converge its application and put it into practical use.

But as the world goes gaga about these technologies, let's sit back and check just how many of these efforts are actually converted into business. Only a few products are successfully launched in the market and are successfully commercialised globally. Google Home, Alexa (IoT and AI-based speaker) and Fitbit have carved out a global market for themselves. Their progress is being watched closely by millions of developers and marketers as they could define the next wave of products that could flood the market and become the tipping point for the category.

Robots and machines are enacting 'precision methods' thus leading to zero errors and removing human error from the equation. Error de-risking due to emotions, biases, wrong or incorrect interpretation of data, judgemental errors, mistaking correlations as causation, thereby leading to incorrect or inaccurate business decisions will become scarce. AI will eventually prevail over human intelligence to take the risk variable out of the equation. Marketers will be quick to take to this ground-breaking variable that is likely to help them reach their target audience by taking the guesswork out of marketing.

In the next decade, data will become a marketer's oxygen. Thus, media agencies partnering with marketers will have to evolve to a new adaptive and collaborative approach pivoting around data, analytic-led solutions. The new age of media analytics is here and the ones not moving fast right now will most likely be left behind in the next couple of years.

The benefits to a marketer are multifold:

• More accurate profiling of the customer and developing an understanding at an individual level versus cluster profiling

• Customised products for customised needs

• Pricing insights to help pricing-led decisions

• Communication will become more and more personal

• Predictive models to help aid marketers with customised communication which, in turn, will vastly improve product offerings, thereby increasing the chance of market success

• Build customer loyalty and develop a retention strategy at a lower cost

• Obtain superior product insight, optimise production and distribution strategies, manage inventory better and service retail inventory in an optimised manner

A marketer will be surer of his decision, thus making the right allocation of resources towards the tools that will give him assured return on investment.

These are truly disruptive and exciting times that lie ahead. Those who embrace data analytics and put it into play are likely to benefit and stay relevant in the times ahead!

(Sandeep Sharma is President, RK Swamy Media Group, media division of RK Swamy Hansa Group).

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