Big Data and the Power to Predict

Is Big Data a Magic ?

We often hear the term Big Data being used to describe how online retailers as well as mega corporations are targeting the consumer behavior by having the power to predict, sense, and intuit future consumer decisions. Indeed, Big Data is talked about in hushed tones with a sense of awe and reverence about its capabilities wherein companies have so much power over consumers that they can actually “predict” what the consumers do next.

So, is Big Data some kind of magic wand in the hands of companies as they ramp up their efforts to keep one step ahead of their consumers? Or, is it just technology being used to the fullest and the most efficient manner wherein computers driven by algorithms dictate what he consumers do next? The answer is something of a combination of these two aspects wherein Big Data offers companies both predictive and intuitive capabilities that are indeed magical in nature and use technology to the fullest.

What is Big Data ?

Simply put, Big Data uses large datasets of consumer data that cannot be ordinarily handled by traditional computing methods. Thus, Big Data uses complex algorithms to analyze consumer data to make predictions about what consumers would do next. For instance, you might have shopped online and browsed through some products as well as left your age, gender, occupation, location, and other details on the site.

Next, you might have expressed interest in some products and must have generally perused the contents of the site while shopping. Using this information as the base and feeding it to advanced computers powered by algorithms, the retailer or the online portal can then deduce what your next visit might likely result in. in other words, using the data that you have supplied as well as the “online footprint” that you have left behind, the portal is in a position to determine what your likely preferences are and what you might do next. This means that the retailer can actually know you better than you know yourselves.

How Big Data Works

Further, Big Data also uses information that is correlated with your overall online behavior and specific trails that you leave behind in the portals. In other words, Big Data gathers all relevant and pertinent information about you from multiple sources collates and compares the information from all these sources, using past data to predict your next moves, and in addition, by using large datasets that are comprehensive and complex, can intuit, and sense what you do next. All these capabilities are possible only with large datasets and this is the reason why it is called Big Data since conventional datasets cannot handle such large amounts of data. Moreover, using artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, Big Data can indeed be a game changer for businesses which need to “suggest” and “offer” probable and possible products to buy for consumers.

The Power to Predict and Know Consumers Better than they Know Themselves

This means that companies can actually “sense” what their consumers do next and thus have an advantage over their competitors. For instance, Amazon which is the world’s leading online retailer is supposed to be the market leader in using Big Data. If you have ever shopped on Amazon, you would know how it suggests products that you can buy based on your past preferences and shopping behavior.

Indeed, some experts believe that Amazon actually “leads” consumers to buy products rather than the consumers deciding on what to buy thus ensuring that it weaves “magic” on its consumers. This is the reason why we mentioned in the introduction that Big Data is like a magic wand in combination with an intelligent system of predicting consumer behavior.

Taken together, the combination of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence have indeed revolutionized the way in which marketers target consumers and ensure that they are at the leading edge of the wave when it comes to predicting consumer behavior.

Some Concerns over Big Data

However, there are some consumer rights advocates who point to the “pervasive” and “all encompassing” influence of these technologies as retailers and online portals wield extraordinary power over their consumers. Indeed, already there have been many petitions against excessive data gathering and data manipulation as these activists feel that retailers are “delving” into the minds of consumers and hence, are actually invading their privacy and sanctity of their personal space.

Moreover, the contention that shopping must be an experience that consumers should drive instead of the companies driving and deciding for them has been another concern that has been expressed in recent times. This usually is countered by the assertion that even in the days without computers, the shopkeepers used to suggest products based on their personal relationships with the consumers and hence, Big Data is just an evolutionary step in the journey of the relationship between marketers and consumers.

Conclusion

Whatever might be one’s point of view, it is undeniable that Big Data has indeed transformed the market landscape and placed extraordinary opportunities for retailers.

Indeed, who would not like to know what consumers do next and then roll out products accordingly as well as design and shape the consumer shopping experience in a manner that would increase profits for the companies? Moreover, who would like to pass up the chance to know consumers better than they know themselves and thus have the chance to “play god” with consumer behavior. As long as such use and manipulation of data does not cause harm to either party, our view on Big Data is that it can be used with adequate safeguards and protections for the consumers.


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