Big data in and of itself doesn’t do a company much good. The key is to couple that data with high-speed data analytics in order to be able to make real-time decisions. Additionally, you need to leverage your internal big data by looking at real-time chatter on social media and on websites. This gives you a better idea of what’s happening with online product reviews, and it helps you move forward. 

For example, an online retailer in a shopping mall noticed they had a Telestar iPhone mini projector selling very well at $229. They also saw that a lot of people were writing positive reviews about it in social media. This was valuable, real-time data. So they highlighted that product on their home page right when those sales were looking good. They also sent emails to their loyalty card members about the item and posted it on all their social media outlets. As a result, sales of that projector soared 800% for that retailer. That’s an 800% payoff!

This happened because they were getting the data on what was happening—on what was selling big—in real time. They didn’t have to wait a month or a week to see the trends. They then used that information on their social media and email lists to create an 800% increase in sales.

In other words, the key to using big data is to have an integrated strategy. It’s about using all the data—not just the data that’s in your store. It’s about collecting data from everyone shopping, tweeting, posting, etc. This enables you to really analyze who is shopping where and what they’re buying.

Remember, there are now little cameras on vending machines that can tell who is purchasing from those vending machines. Some of the newer vending machines will even offer special deals on a little screen on the vending machine based on whether the person standing in front of it is a child, adult, male, female, thin, or large. This is what monetizing big data is about—the ability to use real-time data to make offers relevant in the moment.

Therefore, whether you’re a large company or a small mom and pop shop, you need to ask yourself, “How could I use big data? Am I collecting enough quality and actionable data from my customers? Am I collecting the right data to make the kinds of decisions that I need to make? Do I have a system?”

If you’re a small or mid-sized company, can you use a partner that can give you the ability to collect the right data? Thanks to such things as software as a service, hardware as a service, and IT as a service, even small companies can outsource IT functions. As a result, companies of any size can get the benefits of having a super-computer without having to own one, and can access the high-speed data analytics that normally only a big company could afford.

So no matter what size company you have, it’s time to look into creating an integrated big data strategy. This is not something to take a “wait and see” approach on. Big data will transform the business world. Take action now.