Turning Small Data into Big Insights

Cloudera's Kunal Taneja discusses how to utilise data to benefit the business and the customer.

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Kunal Taneja, Cloudera. Source: CxO Disrupt, Melbourne.

Digital disruption is inevitably effecting all businesses in the modern era, and many emphasise data’s role in this transformation. But this raises the question: why is big data so important and why is it considered a strategic asset?

At CxO Disrupt, Melbourne, Cloudera’s Solutions Manager ANZ, Kunal Taneja, shed light on this topic and explained the changing role of data, the importance of a modernised approach, as well as how to effectively utilise data to benefit the business and the customer.

He began by highlighting the changing relationship business-owners have had with data over the past decade.

“Most conversations used to be: ‘data is growing quickly, it’s too expensive. How do we reduce costs?’ Data conversations have quickly shifted to ‘data is my most strategic asset in differentiating myself from all my competitors.’”

He attributed this to the fact that Big Data is creating disruption in three crucial ways: instrumentation allows everything to be measured; consumerisation allows customers to interact with data; and experimentation allows businesses to understand the differences data makes to their organisation.

Segmenting “Big Data”, Finding What You Need

Taneja compared the issues of traditional, sequel searches of online banking — which only allows the customer to search by date or transaction — to the modern, multi-faceted search engine of “Expedia” — that offers an array of options including star ratings and locations — he noted that it was clear that businesses failing to use a modern approach are at risk of losing customers.

“There is a shift in the way businesses are using information today. We want more data, we want to take the old data and merge it with the new data and come up with insights,” he explains.

Another example he noted was the need for banks to store mortgages for 7 years, which Taneja said was “putting a lot of pressure on traditional approaches when we work with data.”

The solution is to exclude some data, meaning somebody must make a decision regarding what they perceive to be important information.

But how do they know what is important to each individual?

This is how businesses limit their ability to experiment, Taneja argues. Therefore, big data must be modernised and accessible; “Without access to raw data, most of your data science is dead.”

Breaking Down Silos

When looking at the accessibility of data, breaking down silos has been highlighted as a common problem inhibiting businesses from innovating.

“When we talk about silos, it really boils down to the latency that we have in doing insights.”

Taneja uses online banking to highlight the importance of storing data in a centralised location.

Taneja drew on an example of a bank researching how customers logging into their online banking on an iPhone might affect their credit score.

Without data being stored in a centralised location, this research could take up to six months to locate and analyse, which not only encourages the customer to look at competitors but also crushes innovation within the business.

Emphasising the downfalls of having single access to data, Teneja suggested platform silos for banks was impractical. With leading investment banks able to calculate the value of risk for a transaction within minutes, he argues that banks cannot afford to have a system that takes 24 hours.

By storing an unlimited amount of data, he noted that Cloudera provides a single repository for data and reduces this research time to 90 seconds.

Instead of moving data through a long process, Taneja argued the “scalable approach is to keep data in a centralised location and bring your apps to the data.”

Bringing Value to Customers

According to Taneja, Cloudera has three board level conversations: helping customers build a 360-degree profile by bringing disparate data into a single store; lowering business risk, and improve and go to market with new products and services.

Big data, therefore, has significant business value, but Taneja also emphasises the ways in which it can make customer’s lives easier.

For example, Marks & Spencer retail store in the UK wanted to merge their online and offline customer profiles in order to better understand and interact with their consumers. By looking at both online and offline behaviours, they could understand why customers were abandon shopping carts- did they come in store to buy the product, or did they find a better product elsewhere online?

Insurers also used IoT through the installation of a black box in a car to analyse the driving capabilities of their customers. As a result, this opened up the insurance market to younger drivers.

“Instead of pricing based on a broad segment, they’re giving you segment for one pricing based on how quickly you take corners and break,” said Taneja.

Therefore, big data is a useful tool for organisations to drive change when used correctly. Not only does it provide significant business value that can aid long-term growth, but when it is easily accessible with modernised processes, data is crucial in adding value to the customer experience.

Placing significant emphasis on using a centralised location for data, Taneja concluded: “What we are offering is one platform but many applications. From the same platform and the same data set, you are able to drive customer insights, new product and service efficiency and help you lower business risk.”