Big Data Predictions For 2015We all like to feel as if we have an intuitive sense of what our businesses need to succeed, but the reality is that successful companies rely on big data analytics to continuously understand, measure and improve. With powerful computing available via the cloud, and more tools and services for data collection and analysis than ever before, you can gain the edge over your competition, streamline your operations, connect with the right customers and even develop or refine the right products, using the unprecedented insights from big data. Refine your business strategy by integrating big data analytics into these five business areas:

Process improvement – work smarter

This is often one of the first areas businesses target and think of when it comes to big data analytics. Collecting data on your business process or production invariably exposes inefficiencies and opportunities. While there are often financial gains, resource use or reuse, scheduling and fulfillment/delivery are all areas that benefit from big data analysis.

Product improvement – create smarter

Beyond simply creating efficiencies in your process or production line, big data analytics used correctly will guide and refine your product or service offering. Use big data to gain insight into the market, trends and customer desires, refine your current offerings based on what best serves the company’s mission, direction and wellbeing, and test ideas early and often. This can be at the level of entirely new product lines, or it can be applied simply but effectively to invest in benefits and features of your product or service offering that bring value to your customer, while rolling back those features that bring the least value or don’t recoup their investment. As an added benefit, using big data early and often to develop and refine your product or service offering can help you identify market opportunities and promote the benefits of most interest to your customers, more coherently.

Customer acquisition – market smarter

Your marketing and advertising dollars are money down the drain if you’re not connecting with the right audience. Refine your customer acquisition process by testing every element, every step of the way. Test and drop campaigns, platforms, ads, text and photos that don’t perform well. With powerful analytics tools, you can track levels of engagement with calls to action.

For online properties such as your website, social channels and content marketing resources, dial down to granular elements like a catchphrase, Call to Action button or image. Stock photo websites, such as Dreamstime, can help resource you with high quality images to test for best audience response. Refine your images and messaging with big data analytics to reach the customers who are seeking your services, without wasting energy and resources on other audiences.

Customer retention – grow smarter

It costs five times more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. Slash your customer acquisition costs by using big data analytics to track what keeps your customers and what turns them away. Plan regular touch-points to seek out feedback from your customers and ask them what works, what doesn’t and what they really want. Incorporate personalization to create a feeling of connection, greater satisfaction and desire for your products or services – but be sure to include a human touch and don’t rely solely on data. Use analytics to drive direction, but people to build connection. Big data also helps when it comes to functionally achieving the improvements in service or product that your customers want.

Employee retention – collaborate smarter

The use of big data analytics when it comes to improving employee satisfaction can be of great help – but be cautious with overemphasizing data over relationships when it comes to employees or customers. While big data analytics have been touted as an excellent way to identify the right skills for the job, they run the risk of reducing employees to a list of traits and achievements, and alienating potential talent that needs a human point of contact. As in all areas of your business, use big data strategically to search for candidates, test skills and collect aggregate feedback. Support equality and fair workplace policy, but don’t use it as the sole tool in your kit. Incorporate human touch-points in the process to catch opportunities that a machine might miss.

Whatever the size or nature of your business, big data analytics will help you understand opportunities for improvement and to remain competitive. Employ big data strategically to improve your process and service or product, market it better, find and keep the best customers and get the right people on your team.