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Big Data Analytics for Better Business

An introduction to the fundamentals of big data analytics and how it can help supercharge your business growth

Big Data Analytics probably means different things to different people, and that's ok as there are a broad range of problems that are looked at, assessed, and ideally solved by this deeper level of analysis.

Rather than accepting the traditional way of reviewing business performance by referring to the P&L and Balance Sheet of a business and assessing the state of that business solely on that level of detail, big data analytics is about digging deeper, it's about looking at different aspects of business activity, how it has been and is performing, and how that compares with your expectations or accepted standards.

In manufacturing for instance, it may be about looking at the volume and quality of output by machine, by product over time; even assessing the number of hours each machine is active to then understand what pace they are working at. That can be compared to current and future production targets, identifying capacity levels and any associated issues. Also, predictive analytics can be used for analysing machine operations, forecasting its future state and preventing major defects.

For customer services, it might mean looking at how quickly orders are entered into your system from the point of customer contact, through to how quickly those orders are processed (invoiced and sent). How often are acceptable standards met or not met, and why aren't they being met. How often are credits raised against those orders, how often are orders classified as back orders because of being out of stock? Does that relate to a specific customer, product or service? It's at this level that business performance can then be fine-tuned to then offer a better customer experience.

Certainly, there are individual business systems out there that can deal with specific areas, e.g. manufacturing, and provide a granular level of performance analysis, but big data analytics is about having the ability to look across multiple areas of the business, all inter-connected, and highlight how specific tasks are being performed – good, bad or indifferent, to then be able to improve deficiencies and visually see how those improvements impact future performance.

The devil is often in the details when it comes to assessing business performance. Generalisation is dangerous as it can and does often hide the real source of the problem. That's what big data analytics is designed to overcome. It instead offers the ability to make commercially intelligent decisions on where faults lay, where standards have slipped and what needs to be done to fix them. This will ultimately improve the customer experience which, in turn, enhances your brand.

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