Posts Tagged 'Big Data'

No, “Big Data” isn’t dead

A recent RetailWire discussion (with the premise that “Big Data” is dead as a retailing management tool) provoked a lot of response. My point of view is that data science combined with action is alive and well:

If you read the recent WSJ interview with the chairman of Fast Retailing (Uniqlo), you might have seen this perceptive comment: “Data would never substitute the merchant. How do you interpret the data? That’s the merchant’s skill set. You need to uncover the insight that is buried in the data and the merchants need to uncover it. Even if you employ artificial intelligence to help you, the numbers [don’t tell] the future.” His point is well taken: No matter how much importance a retail organization places on its ability to extract data from its transactions, the information means nothing if it can’t be turned into action — and some of that decision-making rests on instinct and experience.

That being said, declaring that “Big Data is dead” is an overreaction. The phrase itself may be overused, but data science is alive and well in the interest of smarter merchandising decisions, loyalty programs and so forth. Would Amazon be where it is today without groundbreaking use of data to develop its predictive technology? I don’t think so.

The new buzzword: “Big Data”

“Big Data” is the hot topic in a lot of business articles these days, and is a catchy way of describing “data mining” of the information in a company’s data warehouse. The question discussed this week (on RetailWire) is whether retail companies are maximizing their use of “Big Data” in order to drive their business. My opinion? It’s a mixed report card so far:

It’s clear (without taking one side or another) that the Democrats managed “big data” more effectively than the Republicans in the last election. A lesson learned for all retailers and marketers: Put the time, effort and expense into your data warehouse and it will pay dividends. Among retailers, Amazon has long been at the top of the list for effective data management and addressing specific consumer interests. Macy’s probably leads the pack of more traditional omnichannel retailers, especially through its “My Macy’s” initiative and the micro-targeting of its print offers.

Bottom line: The capability is there because the top-tier retailers are already doing great things with “Big Data.” Those who aren’t prepared to make the same commitment will have to deal with the consequences.