Exactly what is Big Data?

And how can it help me in my customer communication?
This was one of many questions that were answered at Stralfors’ breakfast seminar at Media Evolution City in Malmö.

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Digital sales channels are pulling away and continuing to grow. In particular, email marketing and social media are really expanding a lot,” said Tomas Sjöström.

How will we communicate in future?
That was the subject of Stralfors’ breakfast meeting in Malmö on 21 January.
“The customer will be king in future. And the digital world will make tough demands of us, we’re already seeing that now. But how do we deal with the communication of tomorrow?” 
This was the second question asked by Jens Kofoed Hansen, Sales Manager Data Management at Stralfors, as he introduced the speakers at the seminar.
The first person to speak was Tomas Sjöström, President of the Data Management Division at Stralfors, who spoke about predicted trends in current and future communication channels.
“You’ve probably heard the term ‘Big Data’. But what does it mean? And how can we use Big Data to communicate smarter?
“If you look at the definition of the term, Big Data is the incredibly vast amounts of data that are generated in various communication channels and that can be used to predict certain patterns and behaviours in customers. But very few companies achieve the volume of data required for that.”

What’s driving the hype surrounding Big Data?
“Every second, about 2.9 million emails are sent all around the world. Every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube. On Amazon.com alone, 73 products are ordered every second. With these figures, it’s easy to understand why you need a communication strategy to cut through the chatter,” continued Tomas Sjöström, who went on to describe an example of how Amazon works with customer data. 
Anyone who buys something from the side at present also sees what others have bought and thus receives recommendations from other customers.
“It’s rumoured that Amazon aims to capture visitors’ purchasing behaviour by analysing the movement of the mouse pointer. If a customer hovers over a product with the mouse, it may be an indication that he or she is interested in it. Even at that stage, Amazon can send a pre-order to the warehouse so that the product can reach the customer within only a few hours of a potential purchase. This is a new way of meeting the customer’s needs.”

What’s meant by omnichannel?
Omnichannel is another term that’s becoming increasingly common among marketers. Put simply, it’s about the various channels in which companies market their products. Developments have moved on from goods initially being sold in a physical shop to them also being displayed in and available to buy from a catalogue. The online shop is the third step.
“Studies reveal that digital sales channels are pulling away and continuing to grow. In particular, email marketing and social media are really expanding a lot,” said Tomas Sjöström.
But the digital channels are also linked to physical sales outlets. 
“At the Max burger chain, customers can order their food from a touchscreen instead of at the counter. They avoid having to stand in a queue and also get their food more quickly. But how cool would it be to be able to order your food using your smartphone!”

Is it worth having a presence in social media?
Tomas Sjöström’s reply to this question: 
“There are many examples showing that smart, well-timed tweets are far more effective and more engaging as customer communication than both TV advertising and campaigns with moving images.
“But social media are often treated as one single channel instead of people having the awareness to benefit from the opportunities of the various channels.”

How do I communicate smarter in future?
“Companies must become better at living up to customers’ expectations,” was the view of the day’s second speaker, Magnus Dalbäck, Senior Management Consultant at Cartina.
He summarised the approach using the term digital transformation. Today’s market is both more competitive and more transparent. Today’s customer journey, i.e. from thought to purchase and delivery, is also totally different to what it was 15 years ago, he explained.
“Nowadays we look for information in one place, compare prices and quality somewhere else, and then go and check with our communities before buying the product somewhere else entirely. This makes the task of controlling the customer’s purchasing behaviour a complex one. 
“To reach customers today, you need interaction, a dialogue between companies and customers, rather than one-way communication.”
Magnus Dalbäck cited the retailer ICA as a good example:
“ICA are good at making use of all their customer data. Their mailings are customised and based on data from purchases. I’m excited to see whether they’re thinking about starting to use the same data to suggest what I should buy.”

How do I achieve digital transformation?
“Be relevant, seek out challenges, experiment and ask yourself questions like: Where’s the customer today? Where are they heading? Where are the best ones? And what do I want to be? 
“As soon as the customer sees that his or her expectations are being met at one place, the customer expects this to happen in your relationship as well. Digital transformation is a continuous process,” said Magnus Dalbäck.