Remember a time in the not-so-distant past when small businesses knew their customers so well that they could almost predict when they would be visiting a store and what they needed? As stores got bigger and online shopping started gaining traction, many businesses lost the ability to deliver that personalized customer experience.
But Big Data is giving organizations the opportunity to turn the clock back to a time when businesses really knew their customers and were able to create an intimate customer experience. "In order to stay competitive, retailers need to go back to that one-on-one experience of the past," Bill Gray, chairman of Loyalty Lane, says. Scott Schlesinger, vice president and head of business information management at Capgemini North America, notes that retailers are leveraging both structured and unstructured data to obtain "truer insights" on customers' opinions and behavior.
Zubin Dowlaty, head of innovation and development at Mu Sigma, argues that the vision of using data to recreate the intimate customer experience that was prevalent in the past predates the Big Data buzz. "Big Data is an enabler, and we're only just getting started," Dowlaty says. But according to Kip Wolin, senior principal consultant at NewVantage Partners, Big Data is allowing organizations to bring together contextual information from different channels, including Web, email, call center, and in-person interactions, understanding sentiment and helping to identify customers through a series of actions.