Data collection is now omnipresent in every sector of the global economy. Several aspects of modern economic activity would not be possible without it, just as it would not be possible without other vital production inputs such as material assets and human capital.
Online data collection means having a large pool of data that is aggregated and analyzed to detect patterns and make better decisions — has become the foundation of competition and growth for individual businesses, boosting productivity and adding significant value to the global economy by reducing waste and improving product and service quality.
Until recently, the deluge of data that has flooded our world has probably only piqued the interest of a few data nerds. Finally, however, we have arrived at a crossroads. The sheer volume of data collected, stored, and mined for insights has become economically significant to enterprises, governments, and consumers, as suggested by a study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and McKinsey & Company’s Business Technology Office.
Success in business necessitates that you find methods to exceed your competitors. As a result, firms are always thinking about innovation and new methods. However, finding methods to perform consistently is difficult, so more businesses are looking to data collection for help.
Companies have been gathering data on their target consumers for years. For example, data pioneers studied the health outcomes of drugs after they were widely dispersed, discovering advantages and hazards that were not apparent during more limited clinical studies.
Data from sensors implanted in items ranging from children’s toys to industrial goods were utilized by other early adopters of data collection to establish the usage of the products in the real world. This knowledge then informed the production of new service offerings and the design of future goods.
What’s changed is the volume of data that’s being gathered. New channels, such as social media, and new technology, such as smartphones, have boosted the quantity of data that can be recorded, allowing for more detailed consumer insights. For example, consider how much customer sentiment has improved due to Twitter.
Companies have utilized online data collection in different ways. One such example is multi-channel marketing. Even though e-commerce contributes to less than 20% of overall retail revenue, digital initiatives have a 50% effect on in-store sales. While the final sale may occur in physical stores, the route to that sale may have begun somewhere else.
Customers can check through websites, social media accounts, and catalogs before purchasing.
Data analytics is essential for understanding how customers buy and what factors influence conversions.
Leveraging Data to Gain Advantage
Many companies in the current economy use data to gain advantages in several ways. They include:
- Identify Business Industry Risks
Organizations use financial analysis to look for macro trends in economic data that may help them detect developing hazards and develop risk management strategies appropriately.
That entails keeping a watch on market, industry, national, and global economic issues that may impact your firm, as well as any regulatory policy changes that may influence your sector.
Broader macro changes, such as demographic shifts in purchasing, higher use of emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, evolving geopolitical alliances, and even climate change, all provide heightened threats and possibilities. Keeping track of them and monitoring your financial risks might help you stay ahead of the competition.
- Customer Relationships
When companies can draw the connections between cause and effect related to consumers, including marketing initiatives and their outcomes, it is easier to know which customer-relationship efforts provide the highest return on investment.
It all starts with understanding your consumers on a personal level. What are their requirements? What do people believe about your firm’s capacity to satisfy their needs?
It doesn’t matter how this data is gotten from clients – surveys, interviews, or any other inquiry technique – as long as it is collected regularly. Inquiring about what’s essential to consumers promotes customer satisfaction. Knowledge-sharing agreements may emerge, allowing you to learn about customers’ future requirements. It could also bring about new product and service ideas.
- Improved Chain Management
Contemporary supply systems are shockingly vulnerable, whether it’s pandemic-related shortages, Brexit-related trade disruptions, or a ship trapped in the Suez Canal.
Supply shortages are not surprising since most companies don’t notice breaks in supply networks until they’ve been severely disrupted. Data collection, which enables near-real-time predictive analytics, helps to keep a worldwide network of demand, production, and distribution running smoothly.
Better supply management is conceivable because big data systems can combine data on customer patterns with supplier data, real-time pricing, and even shipping and weather information to deliver an unprecedented degree of information.
- Customer Recommendation & Targeting
Many customers may not realize how much recommendation engines have developed with the introduction of big data since we are so accustomed to them.
Predictive analysis for recommendation engines used to be straightforward: association rules that identified frequent products in market baskets. Recommendation engines are still a feature on e-commerce websites, informing us that consumers who purchased an item also purchased another closely related item.
Modern recommendation systems are far better than that, since they are based on extensive consumer analytics we’ve just mentioned, and detect demographics and customer behavior better.
E-commerce isn’t the only industry that uses recommendations. Recommendations by waiters in a restaurant or café might be data-driven and based on stock levels in the pantry, popular combinations, high-profit goods, and even social media trends.
While posting a photo of your dinner on social media might seem insignificant, you give the data collectors even more data to process.
Setting up the right infrastructure to enable data collection might be tasking, but the commercial benefits that big data may provide are well worth the time and effort. Big data is the lifeblood of contemporary businesses and one of the most valuable resources for implementing smart, long-term change and getting an advantage over competitors.
By Gary Bernstein
Gary has written for several publications over the last 20 years with his primary focus on technology. He has contributed to sites such as Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch and several others.