We spoke to Tony Poole, Director at Synergy Technology, for his experience and insight into the movement of Big Data and the analytics that goes along with it.
In terms of a Big Data project you have implemented, be it either internally in your business or externally with an SME client, what were the key objectives of the project?
“Traditionally in business you have a number of data “silos” – within accounting, ERP, contact management systems etc. as well as other data, like banking data, sales data – and, both could be national and international. The major problem for businesses is that it’s all disparate data.
What we have in real terms in businesses today, worldwide, is multiple silos of data that do not talk to each other. The objectives we aim to achieve with Big Data for clients, is to integrate these silos of data so that they are unified and easily accessible”.
And that was a challenge – to unify these silos?
“About six years ago the biggest challenge we had was that people had contact management data on one side and accounting information on the other side of their business. And when a customer would write to the organisation the accounts department might get the letter and update the accounts, but nobody would update the contact management system.
Now we have CRM, websites, social media and e-commerce platforms, and of course we have even more silos of data that are all disparate. The first hurdle to get over is linking simple internal systems together so if information is changed in any apex it changes throughout the business. For me that was the start of Big Data.
Now the challenge is even greater. Now it’s about taking data that’s internal to the business or purchased data, with data from the cloud, plus statistical data, and bringing it all together to build a better and more informed picture”.
What does that picture look like?
“We have clients who will take point of sale data, and combine it with data on the weather and data on their own customers.
What that allows them to do is to take a holistic view of sales in a particular store on a particular type of day.
A good example is a major homeware stockist in the UK who stocks barbecues when they know it’s coming into warm weather. But how they determine how many to precisely stock is down to data such as the temperature and the average sales at a certain temperature. We’ve seen this with a few clients and the demand for this data is growing; a one degree change in temperature can double sales”.
Is this the real impact of Big Data?
“Well, if I was running a store selling barbecues then Big Data has an impact and this would be: if the weather forecast tells me that next week will be on average 22 degrees, I’m going to have to stock up very quickly on barbeques. Because of the ease of access to data, I can now combine my predictive weather forecast with my historical sales data – which is sliced into specific temperature headings and predict how many barbecues I should have on order from my wholesaler, on their way to me, to satisfy the potential demand.
If this is done properly the impact is: more sales. If badly planned, I could be out of stock and thus not meet demand. By using the data that’s available and by bringing it all together it allows us to predict more accurately”.
How has it changed your clients’ processes?
Unless you have access to the right data – both internally to the business and external subscription data – you can’t bring it together. What we are seeing is that our clients are becoming more aware of this.
The largest area of this is in e-commerce and website purchasing, particularly for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) businesses, because people’s trends change based upon the time of year, their requirements, seasonal events etc.
It’s important to remember that what we’re really talking about is just the joining of the silos of data. Whether it’s data you own or that others own and you’re renting, or whether it’s just you keeping all your silos in sync, this end result is consolidating and joining to create Big Data.
If you would like to find how to consolidate your business data and utilise it more effectively for your buiness then contact Synergy Technology on 0345 345 0050 or send us an enquiry today.