Hadoop: A Powerful Weapon for Retailers

Hadoop: A Powerful Weapon for Retailers

From the post:

With big data basking in the limelight, it is no surprise that large retailers have been closely watching its development… and more power to them! By learning to effectively utilize big data, retailers can significantly mold the market to their advantage, making themselves more competitive and increasing the likelihood that they will come out on top as a successful retailer. Now that there are open source analytical platforms like Hadoop, which allow for unstructured data to be transformed and organized, large retailers are able to make smart business decisions using the information they collect about customers’ habits, preferences, and needs.

As IT industry analyst Jeff Kelly explained on Wikibon, “Big Data combined with sophisticated business analytics have the potential to give enterprises unprecedented insights into customer behavior and volatile market conditions, allowing them to make data-driven business decisions faster and more effectively than the competition.” Predicting what customers want to buy, without a doubt, affects how many products they want to buy (especially if retailers add on a few of those wonderful customer discounts). Not only will big data analytics prove financially beneficial, it will also present the opportunity for customers to have a more individualized shopping experience.

This all sounds very promising but the difficulty lies in the fact that there are many channels in the consumer business now, such as online, in-store, call centers, mobile, social, etc., each with its own target-marketing advantage. In order for retailers to thrive in the market, they must learn to manage and hone in on all (or at least most) of these facets of business, which can be difficult if you keep in mind the amount of data that each channel generates. Sam Sliman, president at Optimal Solutions Integration, summarizes it perfectly: “Transparency rules the day. Inconsistency turns customers away. Retailer missteps can be glaring and costly.” By making fast market decisions, retailers can increase sales, win and maintain customers, improve margins, and boost market share, but this can really only be done with the right business analytics tools.

Interesting but I disagree with “…but the difficulty lies in the fact that there are many channels in the consumer business now, such as online, in-store, call centers, mobile, social, etc., each with its own target-marketing advantage.”

That can be a difficulty, if you are not technically capable of effectively using information from different channels.

But there is a more fundamental difficulty. Having the capacity to use multiple channels of information is no guarantee of effective use of those channels of information.

You could buy your programming department a Cray supercomputer but that doesn’t mean they can make good use of it.

Same is true for collecting or having the software to process “big data.”

The real difficulty is the shortage of analytical skills to explore and exploit data. Computers and software can enhance but not create those analytical skills.

Analytical skills are powerful weapons for retailers.

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