How Companies Can Use Big Data in 2021

This paper from our strategy expert team outlines the value of big data technologies and analytics tools, and explores the anticipated trends for big data management in the coming year.

What is big data?

Big data is a generic term for the huge volumes of data we are generating today. In the context of our strategy consulting services, ‘big data’ refers to everything from customer data, transaction data, web browsing data, product data, store location data and everything in between.  

 

Big data is referred to as ‘Big’ because it is typically so large in terms of volume that traditional data processing tools do not have the power to cope with it. This has led to a huge growth in big data analytics, tools such as Hadoop, that specialise in dealing with high volumes of complex data.

How fast is big data growing?

Big data analytics continues to grow at exponential rates. A Forrester prediction suggests that this year alone the market for big data analytics tools will grow by 14%, equating to an additional $31 billion. As such it continues to attract a great deal of attention by businesses.

 

A major consequence of the pandemic has been the massive shift to online both for commerce and the workplace. Not only has this in turn generated a huge uptick in the volumes of data being produced, it has driven massive demand for help with big data management, as business needs to grapple without the traditional physical locations and face to face sales models.

What makes big data valuable?

Big data is so valuable because of the potential benefits a company achieves from effectively putting their data to work.  In retail for example companies that deploy big data strategies such as customer led floor space optimisation, product adjacencies and targeted pricing promotions can expect to see sales growth of 3-4%.

 

With the continued development of big data technologies and big data analytical tools, especially those based on the cloud, the accessibility of these benefits is becoming increasingly more achievable for companies large and small.

Companies and big data

How can companies use big data in 2021?

2020 has been a turbulent year on many fronts. Key events such as Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have created uncertainty in the market, and we can expect ongoing economic shocks throughout 2021. In addition to these, we should expect to see further implications as a result of the change in lifestyles and working from home. These will show themselves in the form of mental health and social issues, as the real impact begins to unfold.

 

For many businesses, 2020 has been a year of adaptation and change to meet these challenges and big data will continue to play a strong part in helping businesses to make the most of these changes. We see a number of key areas for big data in 2021 as follows:

Artificial Intelligence will continue apace

The use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will continue to be a big growth area of most business analytics.  While there will always be a place for traditional based analytic solutions such as segmentations, the benefits of pairing these big data technologies with automated and instant decision-making capabilities has become far clearer since the rapid digitisation thanks to Covid. The applications stretch far and wide within the organisation but there will be heavy emphasis on big data management in key areas such as workforce optimisation and customer experience management.

Growth in Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing (NLP) has many applications and many of these include the processing of customer input data for chatbots, social media monitoring and survey analysis, the likes of which can deliver great service benefits and efficiencies for a digital experience as well as help optimise spend in targeted marketing and advertising.  The role of NLP as a big data technology is only set to continue to grow following the growth in online.

Resurgence in data commercialisation

There will be a resurgence in data commercialisation of all forms but essentially where businesses will have a renewed focus on the value of their information and data and the opportunities to generate new revenue streams from this both through creating new value add services to existing clients and creating new markets outside of their traditional space.  This will take the shape of data and/or information services as well as data enabled services such as platform plays for things like shared services for omni-channel retailers.

The coming of age for data driven customer experience

2021 will see the coming of age of customer experience for both B2C and B2B sectors.  Core to the success of any digital enterprise is the interplay of profitability, operational effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Big data analytics sit at the heart of this through tracking customers throughout their journey and enabling appropriate responses and reactions that deliver on all three.  In B2B especially, this will extend to empowering sales teams with better information and recommendations for targeted solutions for each individual customer.  Customer service operations will become more and more automated in both the prioritisation and resolution of issues and agents will have much greater autonomy to fix customers and go the extra mile with access to real time insights on customers.

The digital twin re-awakening

One thing 2020 has taught many businesses is the power of big data to rapidly scenario plan and better understand the impact of changes to different levers on the business. The experience of having to dramatically change business models overnight has reawakened the desire for the digital twin in scenario planning. In the big data context, the digital twin is a replica of the business and customers rendered in data that enables the business to rapidly model the impact of pulling various levers. For example, how will increasing online media spend over TV impact footfall and website visits and based on current behaviours what will this translate into in terms of incremental sales.

 

If you would like to discover more about big data management and implementing big data technologies using our strategic consulting services then contact our experts. To understand more about the application of big data analytics tools or alternative analytics applications read our insight on Data Science vs Data Analytics.