Big Data.. It’s Big and it’s Clever.

I often get asked about Data, Big Data… and how it’s changing our lives. How it’s able to know more about me, than what I know about me!

Having data is one thing. Analysing it, is another.

With data, you want to be able to find out what happened and more importantly, why did it happen? Then you would be moving in the realms of predictive analysis and prescriptive analysis (what will happen and how can we make it happen).

As we share our information with  more and more companies, mainly through purchases we make (both, online and in-store), they are using that information and data to learn about us. Learn about our patterns and how we behave. How is Big Data impacting Sales, was also a question from the audience at my recent keynote talk at the Sales Innovation Expo in London last week.

The easiest to describe it, would be in my opinion, with an example. So here goes…

I go to Boots (the Chemist) at most lunchtimes for a Meal Deal. (I’m going to share some intimate detail now…) I go for the triple chicken sandwich (the one that has chicken and bacon, chicken and salad and chicken and stuffing). Along with that, I get a fruit juice, usually the SaVse green one, and then a packet of crisps, usually a packet of Kettle Chips, sweet chilli flavour. I swipe my Boots loyalty card and collect my food. Now, admittedly, this is not on a regular basis, but it is at least 2-3 times a week.

As I did it today, I spoke to my colleague and said… I had to queue and wait for someone to serve me. They could have one or two self-service tills – now, I know Boots have these in other stores and I’m sure they are rolling them out. But the store I went to, they didn’t have any.

Then my ‘Lean Thinking’ kicked in. That could, and probably is, one way to save time for the customer. But what about, they used data on their e-POS (electronic point of sale – the tills where they scan the items and take my payment), to learn about me. For example, in this example, they could easily, put those items I buy for lunch, into a bag, in the fridge section, ready to be picked up and taken away. That would save even more time!

Once again, I’ve seen similar things in other stores, where they have the sandwich, drink and snack already in a small bag, ready to take rather than having to pick the individual items up. It’s all about saving time. But then, a good question… how do they know when you’d be in and when you wouldn’t?

Well, data… once again, could tell you which days I’m in most regular and what time I’m making my purchases. On top of that, they could even text me… Bal, we’ll prepare your lunch, are you coming in today? – Reply with YES or ignore if NO. I could reply back with YES, and guess what, they know Bal is coming… wouldn’t take too long for someone to put the items in the bag and in the fridge section.

But what if someone else takes it? – Well, that’s only a good thing! Why not build a little bit of inventory. I’m sure I’m not the only person having that combination. Why not upsell, or get me to try a new juice, some different types of crisps – and this could be something Boots could discuss with suppliers.

On top of this, you could really get connected. Boots could connect with my calendar. In my calendar, they could see where I am and where my meetings are taking place. Then they could feed this back into their system, and they’ll know when Bal is coming in and when he isn’t. This is now getting into the predictive analysis. Boots knowing where I am, what I’m doing, and then being able to influence my decision in what I buy for lunch. They could leverage Google maps, and at 11:50 send me a message – Bal, we see you are travelling but there’s a Boot’s 5 minute walk from you, where you can pick up your usual lunch.. and don’t forget your Advantage (loyalty) Card points!

So, that is Big Data. It’s Data that is big and can be very clever. Hence you’re seeing more and more organisations and companies learning more about you and your preferences. Many of the times, it should be making a process easier for you, or simpler. For the company, it’s another sale.

Because that’s what it’s all about. Selling.