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Staying in the game with Big Data in Consumer Industries

Aside from the rough and tumble economic factors affecting consumer confidence in the marketplace, Consumer Industries are challenged to keep the ball in play, relying on the massive amounts of information cluttering the field. Strategies and tools for analyzing the volume, velocity and variety of product, social, channel, and consumer data are required to understand behaviors and make successful plays in the future. A keen understanding of preferences, habits, and retail environments is critical to cultivating individualized, one-to-one relationships with customers—the end zone goal of integrated marketing.

 

124579-Consumer__Spri_selected-pages.pngBut most consumer companies today aren’t taking full advantage of the Big Data at their disposal. In fact, research shows that most businesses currently tap just 20 percent of available information, including massive volumes of data from social media, video feeds, call center voice records, and other sources.

 

To understand solutions for Big Data analytics within Consumer Industries, we asked Dustin Buecker, Principle Consultant, Consumer Goods for HP for insight into game-changing strategies. 

 

ES: In general, consumer companies are investing heavily in Big Data solutions. What are the drivers of this investment and what are they seeking to achieve?

DB: The drivers are often related to paradigm shifts occurring in the marketplace, with companies looking to achieve relevance in the new world. Take the area of a consumer company’s market research / consumer insights as an example. While consumers are generating more data and insights than ever, they are doing it on their own terms. It is increasingly difficult to find people to answer a 30-minute questionnaire or participate in a focus group, yet it is nothing for consumers to spend hours every day sharing opinions on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. They transmit a wealth of information as members of loyalty programs and fan pages, but are less interested in joining a traditional consumer panel for a company’s internal research purposes.

 

ES: How are the variety, volume, and velocity of unstructured data impacting the need for insights?

DB: Firms need to adapt to this emerging dynamic and “listen” to their consumers in all the various ways they are communicating and rely less on “asking” for their time and opinions directly—or they risk weakening their understanding and connection to the marketplace.

 

ES: How can consumer industries gain better insight into the ROI of their Big Data investments?

DB: A useful tactic I like to call out to them is to not forget to point Big Data capabilities inward to find insights within their own organization. If a company is using an analytics hub, they can monitor the pulse of various Big Data investments and roll them up for a holistic view.  Then look to the data to provide answers to practical, actionable questions. For example: Have the insights collected via social media resulted in actions which generate higher customer loyalty and market share? Have “sense and respond” techniques within our supply chain produced fewer out-of-stocks and less product return from our retail customers? Has improved search and monitoring capabilities for our R&D labs sped up new product development time to market?

 

Buecker noted a growing number of consumer companies are moving toward an “information and analytics hub” approach, which delivers the consumer, product, channel partner, and operational insights needed to strengthen product design and marketing, improve internal efficiencies, and deliver a more personalized, value-oriented, and satisfying consumer experience.

 

hub.jpg

 

Figure 1: The HP Information Management and Analytics Hub approach. Read more about the hub.

 

Research suggests that as much as 85 percent of information available to a typical organization is unstructured data. Previous-generation centralized enterprise data warehouses are not well-suited to the mining of unstructured data. Instead, unstructured data should be housed in federated information locations, then harmonized and assimilated on the fly—after which it can be mined to produce insights and actionable intelligence in a retail context. The now-emerging information and analytics hub model was developed specifically to meet those next-generation data management and analysis requirements. A modern information and analytics hub consists of separate tiers, which manage data, business intelligence, delivery, and elements to coordinate business rules and metadata.

 

ES: Finally, we have to ask you about outsourcing. How can outsourced analytics accelerate Big Data time to value?

DB: By outsourcing to a company specializing in analytics, firms can take advantage of the latest and greatest thinking and technology — rather than relying on their own internal department to remain on the cutting edge of the field. This accelerates the time to value on Big Data investments by allowing the supplier to worry about “how” the analytics get done and the consumer company to focus on what they do best — the “what” around meeting the needs of consumers uncovered by way of Big Data insights.

After speaking with Buecker, it became obvious to us that in order to stay in the game, Consumer Industries need to start mining that data for actionable insight.

 

Pages from 124579-Consumer__Spri[1].pngFor more insight into Big Data Analytics for Consumer Industries, and how HP is helping our clients respond to them, read the recent Consumer Industry Edition of the “Industry Edge” or visit hp.com/go/consumergoods.

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