Turning Big Data into Smart Data: My Predictions for 2014 in Retail

The Big Data revolution at Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple has transformed the consumer journey across channels, and even helped turn a presidential election. This transition simultaneously poses tremendous challenge and opportunity to retailers.

In our session “How Relevance Can Get Your Brand Elected” at last week’s NRF Big Show, Rayid Ghani (Obama for America’s Chief Scientist) and I shared how data scientists have utilized key methodologies for capturing value and turning Big Data to smart data—using it to win votes and create profit. The analogies between data usage in the Obama campaign and my experience at Amazon and RichRelevance are deep: there are three ways to use data in operations, and it is necessary to take small steps toward a very specific goal using an agile, fail-fast methodology.

The methodologies for data usage are analytics; prediction and interruption; and optimization. They transcend the emergence of “Big Data” and extend in their impact from the last century, as do the learnings from their failures.  The “big transformative project” is doomed to fail; only iterative implementations see the huge ROI of data-oriented technologies.

As I traveled the exhibit hall, I reached my personal predictions for 2014:

  1. 2014 will test us: We must know our identity—who are we to our customers and how we maximize that.  This challenge exists in a highly competitive and unfriendly ecosystem: Amazon is on a tear and will not stop; will Google, eBay, Apple and Facebook turn out to be friend or foe?
  2. Omni-channel ROI at scale: 2014 will be the first year with enough historical case studies of successful omni-channel strategies to support systemic investment. Retailers can invest in 5-10 major initiatives and each can build on the successes/failures of past years.
  3. Emergence of Big Data, Year 2 of 5: Big Data is a long-term trend. We are still in the early adopter phase, where practitioners familiar with the technology and business can be successful, but not enough business people fully understand the technology’s capabilities, ROI or risk in order for 2014 to be the year of mass scale. That said, Big Data is complex and will require numerous years of investment and learning to reach maturity.  Executives know that, so this year will see significant investment from both capital and time budgets.

I invite you to learn more about how you can turn your Big Data into smart data for a relevant brand experience by visiting https://www.richrelevance.com/nrf/.

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This post was written by David Selinger

ABOUT David Selinger
David is CEO and founder of RichRelevance. He first garnered international recognition as an expert in the field of eCommerce data analytics and personalization with his groundbreaking work leading the research and development arm of Amazon’s Data Mining and Personalization team. In that role, David increased Amazon’s annual profit by over $50 million (25% of US profit, 2003) setting the industry standard for recommendation services. To view David's full profile, click here.
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