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How Can Retailers Harness Big Data?

Big data analytics are becoming increasingly indispensable across most industries, including retail. When retailers clearly understand their industry by leveraging key information, they can improve their marketing efforts, demand forecasting, inventory planning, and much more. However, those looking to big data for improvements must overcome certain challenges and develop specific strategies before implementing big data analytics into their businesses. With a range of potential opportunities, what are some business applications for big data in the retail sector?

What are retailers doing?

Retailers can leverage big data in several ways to gain an edge. Here are five key areas worth mentioning:

  1. Personalization — Many retailer websites feature recommendation engines that use customer preferences to tailor selection results. However, it can be challenging for these engines to make recommendations effectively without being obtrusive. For instance, generating irrelevant offers can irritate potential customers. Through big data analysis and machine-learning capabilities, retailers can use customer information to train their engines. For example, they can improve relevance by implementing a control loop that compares generated recommendations to response rates. In other words, retailers are using big data to improve personalization with increasing accuracy.
  2. Pricing — Product prices can fluctuate throughout the year, especially during high-demand periods. How do retailers adapt? Through big data analytics, retailers can employ dynamic pricing, a pricing method that automatically adjusts their prices in response to their competitors’. Retailers can use analytics software that monitors prices and creates rules so the software adjusts prices accordingly. However, if retailers don’t check or limit their dynamic pricing controls, they can become problematic; if a competitor drastically discounts a product and the retailer hasn’t set restrictions on his or her dynamic pricing system, it can devastate margins. Therefore, big data has the capacity to make real-time price matching easy and effective — but only if retailers set clear boundaries.

  3. Inventory — It’s important for any retailer to have a clear view of his or her inventory, especially if he or she oversees more than one location or channel. In the past, industry insiders relied on physical observations and manual inventorying. Now, a variety of digital touch points makes inventory management simpler, even for those with multiple channels. Big data analytics can help retailers track their inventories and understand trends, which, in turn, can help them better — and more accurately — prepare for changes in demand.
  4. Competition — As with inventory, previous competitor assessment methods were relatively low-tech. Retailers can do more than set competitor pricing alternatives based on real-time data: They can also use competitors’ success to their own advantages by monitoring which competing deals are the most profitable and localizing prices based on what competitors’ customers are buying.
  5. Sensor analytics — Through increasing Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, retailers have more opportunities than ever to connect with and attract customers. This year, more retail owners will likely “profit from an increase in sensors and data coming from various customer-owned devices.” This, in turn, is generating greater interest among global retailers hoping to take advantage as 70% are “ready to adopt the Internet of Things to improve customer experiences.” By leveraging customer information on everything from loyalty cards to social media platforms and store apps, retailers can use these countless data points to gain an edge.

It’s clear that, when it comes to harnessing big data, there’s plenty of room for retail success. To truly unlock big data’s potential, retailers will likely invest in more IoT, machine learning, and automation technology. However, careful strategic planning and preparation are essential for any business leader planning to tap into big data. Retail executives should understand what their goals are for leveraging big data, what information they will need, and how they will turn insights into actions moving forward. Without proper planning, it is easy to become overwhelmed — and more information can hinder rather than help business operations. Data has always driven decisions: Big data technology is exciting because it drives smarter, faster, more accurate decisions based on real-time information from many, many data points.

The experts at Value Global understand the retail landscape and offer many customized IT solutions. If you’re looking to leverage smarter ways of doing better business, visit Value Global online or give us a call at 281.713.9895.

Oil and Gas Industry Leaders Leverage New Tech

Terms like “the cloud,” “big data,” “analytics,” and “the Internet of Things (IoT)” are making news, and insiders mention we’re in a new digital revolution. Why? Simply put, advanced technology developments are giving company leaders new levels of visibility, access, and efficiencies with their businesses and customers — and many are taking full advantage.

Big data describes the huge amount of information to which business leaders have access. The cloud is a means to store data in off-site servers, and analytics refers to the studying and using of the collected data. The Internet of Things (IoT), in its simplest form, refers to how computers and other machines connect and communicate with one another and allow for predictive real-time information transmission. This information and computing power is extremely valuable and has far-reaching application across industries as diverse as finance, manufacturing, and health care.

Data analytic software can take granular information and find substantial cost savings. Well-known manufacturer Caterpillar Corporation turned to IoT to dramatically increase return on investment by analyzing big data to save time, money, and — ultimately — equipment. For example, instead of running a few generators at capacity, Caterpillar employees discovered that running more generators at a lower power level saved them over half a million dollars annually. The Caterpillar Asset Intelligence platform integrates data and analytics to provide customers with fuel savings and preventive maintenance suggestions that add up to significant savings over time.

Although Caterpillar largely operates within the manufacturing and construction space, its strategy can be directly applied to the oil and gas industry, where information gathered from large, complex equipment is absolutely critical to exploration and production operations. Employing a monitoring strategy anchored in IoT, for example, would improve the integrity and efficiency of  performance data and help avoid costly shutdowns. But preventive maintenance isn’t the only way those in the oil industry can get at cost savings through data analysis.

It’s no secret oil and gas has seen a downturn in recent years. The addition of an improved, more innovative tech strategy has helped those in the business streamline processes and improve cash flow. Big data strategies in particular have been extremely effective for bottom lines, ultimately increasing profitability and helping companies to remain viable in a difficult market. In fact, Shell is already using big data to lower the cost of drilling as well as ensure machine efficiency through a “data-driven oilfield.”

Oil and gas may have been a little later to the game, but the reality is that oil and gas company leaders already overwhelmingly believe these new tech initiatives are valuable for the long-term, and most will continue to invest in big data, cloud, analytics, and the IoT to inevitably drive this industry in the near future.

Value Global experts have been immersed in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years. Our support and experience can help you leverage big data, the cloud, and the IoT to increase your efficiency and profits. We provide comprehensive oil and gas functionality in business intelligence, operations accounting, and land management fields. Contact us today so we can begin collaborating on your project.
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