Big Data: When Two Worlds Collide
‘Big Data’ is generated in real time these days, and this has singlehandedly transformed retail in ways no one could have imagined. As Mitch Joel, author of Ctrl Alt Delete, expresses it, “The traditional practice of throwing money at marketing opportunities and then trying to figure out if they have worked has come and gone.” (85) No longer can businesses afford to employ post-performance analysis to determine future marketing efforts. Now they must respond quickly and effectively in real time to the vast amounts of data from varying sources on a day-to-day basis just to stay in the game.
To be successful, Joel explains how companies must take on a different view of looking at data. Data is now gathered in two distinct formats: linear and circular. The majority of data that companies have gathered and analyzed up to this point has been linear in nature. Businesses have largely generated this data by observing consumers’ reactions or non reactions to specific advertising and promotional activities, whether online or offline.
However, with the growth of social media, Joel reveals that companies have a new form of circular data at their disposal. It is captured through the form of a new language expressed through tweets, likes, friends, followers, comments, ratings and the plethora of other organic actions that embodies the relationships, experiences and moods of its online users. Although this form of data is extremely valuable as a lead generator, it can be very difficult to measure – especially when social networks make it difficult to access.
Yet, retailers must use the best analytical tools available to connect and establish a relationship between these linear and circular data sets. Those who have the benchmarks set up to effectively analyze and combine both formats will significantly outperform their competitors. As Joel explains, “having those linear and circular data points collide is the world of the future.” (73) The value obtained by retrieving and using this data in real time will give retailers the ultimate engagement they never thought possible with their customers.
Retailers must start somewhere, however, and it always starts with understanding linear data. If they aren’t effectively measuring, recording and optimizing this data, they won’t even begin to understand what to do with the circular data. Retailers must have established performance markers and know what they’re tracking before they can do anything else.
ShopperTrak fully understands how crucial it is to measure and record the right data and make the right connections in order to gain a comprehensive view for successful decision making on a day-to-day basis. We provide effective analytical tools to help retailers understand and optimize linear data through our people counting technology. No data is relevant without the proper context to evaluate it. Therefore, we allow clients to integrate their own key performance metrics with our established benchmarks to give them the real-time actionable insights they require.