January 27th, 2014 by Sarah Sluis

Using Big Data, marketers have been able to hone in on schools of fish in seas of information.  Then they cast their net accordingly. Applying data science to marketing is still a new field, but it’s no longer the frontier.

According to the study “The Data Storm: Retail and the Big Data Revolution,” released by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Wipro, 46 percent of the C-suite executives surveyed put marketing in their top three uses of big data. Looking ahead, 40 percent of executives see marketing as remaining one of their top areas of focus. Retailers agree that brand loyalty (64 percent) is an area with the biggest gains from big data analytics, though multi-channel sales were not far behind (54 percent).

In the next two years, however, retailers are shifting their focus from marketing to corporate strategy. 62 percent are looking to using big data for corporate strategy in the next two years, while only 40 percent considered it two years ago. Through data analysis, retailers can make decisions about corporate strategy with more confidence than before. “Big data analytics provides a view of opportunities and associated risks in a way that has never been done before increasing probability of success, reducing risks and improving ROI,” says Hari Shetty, Global Head of Retail at Wipro. “78 percent of all respondents’ businesses have seen a positive economic return from investment in data analysis for the strategy area, the highest figure for any function or process.”

As more retailers use big data for marketing, they have become more comfortable with using big data for another purpose: corporate strategy. Using complex mapping technology, for example, they can analyze which street corners or demographic areas would be the strongest fits for new development. Retailers may transform their “new market development, potential mergers and acquisitions, market segment identification and shaping offerings using scenario modeling,” using big data, Shetty says.

That being said, retail executives know they are behind.  “Although retail as an industry generates enormous volume of data, it is still at a nascent stage in terms of creating value out of big data analytics. The industries that lean on analytical methods like insurance and life sciences are leading, while retail is catching up,” observes Shetty.  “Only 16 percent [of those surveyed] believe that data analysis is helping them today,” Shetty highlights, and “only 46 percent of retail C-suite executives are confident that their firm’s analytical abilities are keeping up with data volumes.” Talking about big data may be old news, but when it comes to widespread adoption, the industry is still tapping the surface.

Click for a full-size infographic highlighting the findings:


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