Big Data, Bet­ter De­ci­sion

Big data is now es­sen­tial for busi­nesses to understand their tar­get mar­ket

ChinAfrica - - Contents - By Yu Nan

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.

Big data is vi­tal for e-commerce driven by faster 4G con­nec­tiv­ity

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