3 big use cases for big data

Business innovation is often difficult to maintain, as expectations evolve and operations develop to better support these needs. Big data has added another layer to this pursuit by promising a wide range of information revolving around organization processes and consumer behaviors. On the surface, big data can be immensely beneficial, but it takes the right tools and commitment to fully support it. With these elements in place, teams can make the most of their information and realize significant results. Here are three successful use cases for big data that other businesses can emulate:

1. View into the customer journey

Consumer behavior can tell businesses a lot about how products and services are being used as well as the general satisfaction with these offerings. Traditionally, organizations could only see bits and pieces of this information through customer feedback and surveys, but that doesn't really provide the total picture. Big data, paired with internet enablement and sensors, gives a much wider view into the customer journey.

Take a retailer website, for example. It's important for the business to understand how the user navigates the site as well as what items are catching the customer's eyes. InformationWeek contributor Jeff Bertolucci noted that organizations will have insight regarding what pages users visit, where they linger, when they leave and how long they stay. These are all critical to identifying how clients navigate the site and how to improve it for a better experience. This information can also go a long way toward delivering personalized recommendations based on past behavior and transactions.

Online retailers can use big data to view customer journeys and behaviors.Online retailers can use big data to view customer journeys and behaviors.

2. Improve manufacturing quality

Manufacturers make a wide variety of products for a range of industries, and it's important to have pertinent information available in real time to ensure that any issues are quickly dealt with. Rolls-Royce, for example, creates engines that are used by 500 airlines and more than 150 armed forces. According to Forbes contributor Bernard Marr, any mistake or failure can cost billions of dollars to fix, not to mention the lives that are put at risk. It's integral to continually monitor the health of the products as they're being created to ensure everyone's safety and the quality of the engines upon completion.

The organization uses big data in its design, manufacturing and after-sales support processes. Each jet engine simulation generates tens of terabytes, and big data helps Rolls-Royce ensure that any issues are spotted right away and visualize if the product is good or bad. The sensors within the engines record every detail about their operations and can report in real time to engineers. This can help determine the best course of action in critical situations and immediately identify any unusual behavior. In this way, big data can prevent disasters from occurring by detecting the issue and notifying operators early on.

"[Engineers] can amalgamate the data from their engines to highlight factors and conditions under which engines may need maintenance," Marr wrote. "In some situations, humans will then intervene to avoid or mitigate whatever is likely to cause a problem. Increasingly, Rolls-Royce expect (sic) that computers will carry out the intervention themselves."

3. Advance health care treatment

"Health care professionals are leveraging big data to advance treatment."

The health care industry is complex in the fact that there are so many diseases and conditions that exist, and each patient can have a variety of symptoms. Each person requires individualized care for their particular situation, but that's only possible if doctors have enough time and information to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment strategy. Health care professionals are starting to leverage big data to advance health care treatment and detect patterns that may lead to epidemics.

In Singapore, health care providers started to use big data to improve how they manage chronic diseases and improve overall capabilities. VentureBeat noted that doctors can leverage big data to understand each patient's condition, environment and lifestyle choices. From there, they can build personalized treatment plans based on that person's behavior. By using such vital information, health care providers can better manage patient care, outcomes and cost.

"Companies that use big data well excel in sorting through the white noise of data, filtering out the relevant information and drawing insight from its analysis," IDA Singapore wrote. "Only then can companies begin to put big data to work to target and retarget the right customers, personalize their experience, solve their problems or build products suited to their needs. Big data can certainly be valuable — but only with actionable insight."

Team up for better big data

Organizations are increasingly using big data to fulfill use cases like these, among so many others. Big data is changing the way businesses interact with their customers, how they operate and what goes into decision-making processes. The actionable insights afforded by big data are essential to keeping companies competitive, ensuring that product and service quality is rising to expectations and that offerings continue to evolve with consumer needs.

All of this can put a lot of pressure on organizations, especially those that don't have the resources or expertise necessary to internally support these initiatives. Foothills Consulting Group provides resource augmentation to tailor and configure your big data strategy to your needs and train your staff on how best to reinforce it.