Invest in big data now for competitive advantage: IDC

Enterprises can use data insights for customer loyalty campaigns and gain an 18-month lead time on rivals, says analyst

Companies should not hold back on big data research because chances are their competitors are already analysing data to gain better insights into customers' spending habits, according to an analyst.

Speaking at the IDC Asia Pacific Business Analytics conference in Sydney, IDC Asia-Pacific business analytics and channels research director Craig Stires told delegates that organisations which do have a big data strategy will have an18- to 24-month lead on competitors once the data is analysed.

He outlined three Australian industry verticals which the analyst firm has identified as big data early adopters.

Telecommunications

According to Stires, telecommunication companies invest heavily in trying to reduce customer churn by building loyalty through the use of data analytics.

For example, the telco may identity a customer in its database who has recommended friends and family to use the telco’s services. It will then send highly targeted bundled phone/Internet package emails or text messages to those “key influencers”.

Banking and financial services

Banking and financial services have always been on the front end of using data and analytics to drive competitive difference, said Stires.

“Big data starts to change that game because now these companies are looking at prevention of financial crimes,” he said.

“For a bank, financial crimes can come from a number of different areas such as [credit and debit] card fraud and rogue employees."

Stires said banks are looking at using solutions such as big data to pull external information and process data in real time to start preventing and reducing the amount of fraud which banks are subject to.

For example, Westpac recently announced that in 2013 it will be offering corporate customers the ability to send a payment instruction directly from their SAP system to Westpac’s core payment systems and receive a confirmation message back from the bank in real time.

According to Westpac, the payment system will offer customers increased encryption and ISO 20022 global data standards.

Public sector

“When you look at the public sector, this is not normally an area where you think of competition,” Stires said. “You think that the public sector is built to provide services to citizens.”

However, Australian public sector CIOs he has spoken to are concerned about how citizens react to events such as policy changes.

“Traditionally, gathering information from polls takes time with door to door surveys. Now we have social media feeds where within three to four hours public sector staff start to get some indication of how the general public is reacting to that policy change,” he said.

In order to prepare businesses for big data projects, Stires suggested that IT executives first build a business case and ensure they hire staff with the relevant big data skill sets.

“If you can outline to the business that it has a specific competitive pain point such as customer churn than you can start to get buy in from management followed by funding,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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