According to Bill Martin, founder of Shoppertrak, more and more retailers are relying on big data to combat sales lost to online and mobile technologies.
But, salespeople who work online also have access to big data and a new set of tools that are making predictive analytics available to them on the fly.
Many big retailers are trying to cope by embracing all three venues–in-store, online and mobile – into a continuous shopping experience.
In just a few short years, the average smartphone will be much smarter and will interface with supercomputers like IBM’s Watson. Because of mobile phones, what will be possible, regarding understanding customers and their preferences? We are sure it will be nothing short of amazing.
What is new here is the massive increase in the sheer amount of data that is being collected daily on consumers as they shop, investigate topics using search engines, write about their wishes in emails and blog posts, or fill in forms to get access to information they want.
For example, Walmart handles over 1 million customer transactions per hour feeding databases estimated at over 2.5 petabytes, while Google was processing 20 petabytes a day by 2008 (a petabyte is roughly equivalent to 4-5 times the amount of information stored in the Library of Congress).
With this amount of information, companies can develop profiles of users and predict in close to real time what they will do next to buy preferences or other behaviors.
Having a buyer’s predictive profile can only help salespeople in terms of what they offer to prospects.
This will lead to business optimization for those companies who have the top data scientists, the best algorithms, and the most computing power both in the cloud and using mobile devices.
These early movers will have a huge competitive advantage over smaller companies that don’t have these resources.
However, with time, the costs of this technology will quickly decrease so those small businesses will catch up, eventually.
With smaller screens, creative visualization of big data will become increasingly important for sense-making and reasoning our way through this new environment.
While data scientists are already in demand, there will be increased career opportunities for information designers and graphic designers. A new book by Isabel Meirellles, titled Design for Information (Rockport, 2013), lists at least six types of visualization that will be featured in this new world of big data and mobile devices:
- Hierarchical Structures: trees
- Relational Structures: networks
- Temporal Structures: timelines and flows
- Spatial Structures: maps
- Spacio-Temporal Structures: predicting human activity
- Textual Structures: effective presentation of text
At one level, big data can be overwhelming.
But, with powerful computers, smart algorithms, and mobile devices can also help to figure out on-the-fly solutions in an increasingly complex world.
Like all marriages, there are upsides and downsides to the information age and the ubiquity of mobile devices.
On the one hand, there is literally too much to know, and it is easy to suffer attentional fatigue with all the information and decisions (both trivial and important) that flood us each day.
With the right tools, there are great opportunities to do things differently with big data and mobile devices.
Neuroscientist Daniel Leviton has just written a helpful book, The Organized Mind (Allen Lane, 2014), on how to cope with the information explosion.
The key to coping, Leviton says, is learning what to pay attention to and what to ignore in our daily lives. While it is difficult, he says the mind can be organized and trained to do this.
At Float, these are some of the things we think about every day. If you’d like to talk about them in terms of a mobile strategy, please contact us.
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