Big Data, Better Decision
Big data is now essential for businesses to understand their target market
Data now an economic asset
Just what is “big data”? The beer-diaper case is an oft-told example given to illustrate the concept. Walmart used the data mining capacity to analyze local buying patterns and identify new merchandising opportunities. They discovered that when men bought diapers, they also tended to buy beer. The U.S. retail chain used this newly discovered information to move the beer display closer to the diaper counter and increase revenue.
Foretelling future fads
Facebook has more than 6 million page views per minute, while every minute a giant amount of data is being generated from microblogs. It means that data has become so valuable that nowadays it is regarded as a new class of economic asset, like currency or gold. In the era of big data, using it to track customer preferences means greater business opportunities.
People became aware of the big-data technology after online purchases, like Wang Jing, an overseas study consultant in Beijing and a loyal online shopper. “I bought a pair of Timberland boots during the Singles Day online shopping spree last year. I found that not only advertisements for boots and shoes kept popping up on my browser in the following weeks, but the advertisements I received later were all customized to my online purchasing and inquiry records,” Wang said.
Online shopping records can be analyzed to find out personal preference and provide consumer buying behavior knowledge. It could help an online manufacturer or retailer determine future promotions, sales and inventory.
Wang Hao, General Manager of Marketing at CINB Internet TV, agrees. “Big data penetrates all aspects of business. In e-commerce, for example, decisions are based on the analysis of customers’ age, occupation, income and lifestyle. Accordingly, the advertisement they will receive will cater to their needs, driving huge economic value,” he said.
Data analysis can also be of great help in business operations and decision-making. Zhen Shaoming, a data consultant at Chongqing Mobile Internet Industrial Park, describes how big-data technology is used to personalize travel products. “We set a topic on Wechat, asking, ‘where do you want to travel?’ It is open to people from all walks of life. Data collected from users acts as a weathervane, telling us what the hot tourist attractions are and the favorite resorts of people of different ages in different regions.”
His company helps businesses make sense of an explosion of data to guide decisions, trim costs and lift sales. If you want to run a restaurant, you can buy their data report, which will forecast the regions with the most geographical advantage and analyze the changes in customer tastes and preferences. The report can cost about $970 for an analysis to several hundred thousand dollars for a customized version.
Another venture thriving on big data in the industrial park is a micro-enterprise mall, a big-data platform for the e-commerce operation of micro-enterprises, which went online by the end of 2013. It plans to help, for free, at least 10,000 micro-enterprises to run online businesses. According to Ren Gangjian, Chairman of the mall, the bigdata platform helps entrepreneurs better understand and analyze data of brick-and-mortar shops and online retails on computers, mobile phones and Wechat by utilizing online-to-offline key resources.
“Data is set to become a critical resource. Previously, it was regarded as a product of the information age, but today, it is a key,” said He Baohong, Director of Internet Center, China Academy of Telecommunication Research, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. “We are on the eve of the big-data era. All industries should think the way data does to reconstruct our society and management.”
Better Sino-african exchanges
With the world awash in big data, the technology has great potential for companies in Africa.
According to an IBM research, Nigeria and Kenya lag behind globally in big data implementation. In both the countries, 12 percent of the companies surveyed said they
have a big data pilot scheme in operation, slightly lower than the global average of 13 percent.
Local firms are increasingly looking to big data to boost their productivity and drive up profits. The Santam Insurance Co. in South Africa is using data for easier identification and handling of fraudulent claims, and dealing with legitimate complaints within an hour, 70 times faster than it used to be. Meanwhile, big-data analysis helps reduce claims-settling visits clerks have to make for low-risk customers, reducing operating costs.
Big data is also changing China-africa business cooperation. At the Sino-african cooperation conference hosted by the Fujian Provincial Government’s Foreign Affairs Office in September 2014, Lai Chaoliang, Chairman of Fujian General Chamber of Commerce, proposed to build a website for the Big Data Platform for China Commerce Network in Africa, which offers business information for enterprises for resource sharing and information dissemination.
The website will provide advanced and customized services in terms of bilateral management training cooperation, entrepreneurial exchanges and project negotiation mechanism. The proposal met with a positive response from the African business circle.
Big data is already transforming the way Chinese culture is transmitted. An online survey with 200,000 respondents from nine major tourist source countries worldwide shows Chinese civilization, history and landscape are what tourists find most attractive. Traditional architecture, tea, calligraphy and painting are regarded as representing Chinese culture.
How to leverage big data for culture transmission? At a recent event at Beijing Normal University - the International Forum on Culture Going Out: Contemporary Chinese Cultural Values Cohesion and Culture Transmission Path, Liu Yun, Chief Commercial Officer of Qihoo 360 Technology, emphasized the importance of the new technology. “More precise communication based on the target audience by making the best of the new media is going to be an important technical support for Chinese culture transmission in the future,” he said.
The popularity of the Chinese TV series A Beautiful Daughter-in-law Era in Tanzania proves his point.
Hu Zhifeng, Director at the Research Center of Media Art and Culture of Communication University of China, told the forum the TV series was such a big hit because it resonated emotionally with the African audience. “Tanzanians have been able to understand the series due to the emotional entanglement and personal relationships depicted. Tension between a mother-in-law and daughterin-law also exists in African countries, so it resonates with African people,” he said.
Hu believes that in big-data era, an accurate analysis of audience need is required before transmitting culture. In this way, Chinese culture can be transmitted truly efficiently.
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