Why you need Big Data to get actionable customer insights?

Apr 2, 2021 | Blog

About Kuldeep Deshpande

Why you need Big Data to get actionable customer insights?

Over last few years, I had an opportunity to work with various sales, marketing and customer service teams of various companies, small and large in size. Many of these executives have a notion that they actually have a “360 degree view of customer”. And this reminds me of a famous Japanese proverb


This means “If you know everything, you must be misinformed”.  Yes, some of these sales, marketing professionals may be misinformed about customer insights.

Data explosion during last few years has impacted no other walk of corporate management than it has impacted customer insights. Ultimately a customer is a living entity that has an existence outside your company and what your customers do in their lives matters a lot for your customer intelligence, and at the end to grow your business.

Big Data can be an important aid to sail through sea of data.  Without getting into the jargon, by Big Data, I am referring to tools and technologies to manage vast amount of structured and unstructured data.

So, how do you know if your business can employ Big Data Technologies to get meaningful customer insights?

1. Your marketing Data Warehouse cannot provide all the data you need –

You do have a ‘Marketing Data Warehouse ’, but there are parts of the organization that do not feed data into the data warehouse. You recently acquired a company that has a wealth of data. But the two data warehouses do not talk to each other. Getting that one extra source integrated into the data warehouse may take much more time than you have to beat the competition. All of this may point to need for a ‘customer analytics sandbox’, preferably using big data technologies.

2.Lots of data exists about your customers outside your own data systems –

External data is becoming more and more critical in customer insights. About a year ago we delivered a data warehouse for a hotel management company where about 80% of the data was coming from external, syndicated data systems. Syndicated data is becoming more and more important in B2B marketing (e.g. Dun and Bradstreet), hotel management (STAR, Demand360), CPG (Nielsen etc). Many of these data sources are aggregated and anonymous, but need to be correlated and compared with internal data.

3.Your customers are abuzz on Social networks –

Social networks may be very relevant to your business for many reasons. It can be used to analyze customer networks, their spending habits, pain areas in specific technologies, next possible buying need etc. Almost every customer I have worked with in last few years has started leveraging social media data for understanding their customers. Question is not whether you need social media data or not, question is how you can leverage social media data for customer insights.

4.Data generated by customers is fast and real time –

Data generated by devices and sensors can provide important insights. One of our telecom customers augmented CRM data with customer behavior data captured through constantly streaming handset device data. This required a large ‘Big Data cluster’ to manage this constantly streaming and essentially vast amount of data. Our Gazelle is specifically developed to handle streaming data.  Many companies track and capture web interactions of their customers. Managing this constantly generated and complex data may at times need usage of Big Data technologies.

5.New ‘Data startups’ are disrupting business in your field –

Many traditional businesses are being challenged by new ‘data startups’. For example, traditional lending companies and banks are experiencing competition from Fintech companies, most of which rely heaving on big data technologies for faster lending decisions. Same is true with Insurance companies. Are you into a business where traditional companies are being challenged by ‘data startups’?

6.Your internal data may be difficult to manage and analyze 

You have loads of data in customer service systems, sales notes and interviews. But you are finding it difficult to derive intelligence out of this data. You have customer data sitting in many different systems but deduping customer data is difficult and may require expensive tools. These are some problems that have become more manageable with advent of Big Data technologies.

7.You need faster insights 

Your marketing and customer service teams may need insights about customers in real time. They need to know next best action for sales discussions, best customer service rep to answer a question. To make this information available faster, you need supporting Big Data infrastructure that can collect, store and churn data faster than you have been doing in the past.

8.You need correlations, predictions, segmentation with all this data –

You may have all data cleaned and integrated into a single place. You are also capturing external and social media data. But this points to a need of complex mathematical models for churning vast amount of data, predicting next best action, segmenting customers, predicting buying propensity, cross sell campaigns etc. All of this needs huge computing power that can be made available easily by using Big Data technologies.

So do you have any of these needs? Good news is that with the usage of Big Data technologies, customer insight is becoming enriched and actionable, fulfilling the promise of a real 360 degree view of customer. In next few articles, we will discuss few interesting examples of this.

Note: This article is a part of ‘Big Data for Actionable Customer Insights’ series. Stay tuned for upcoming articles.

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