I have a New York Times weekend and digital subscription, and it’s often the first thing I check in the morning, and the last thing I check before going to bed.
But when I awakened early this particular morning, I discovered a DNS resolution error.
As it turned out, the Times’ domain name resolution had apparently been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (they also hacked the Twitter domain name), and so I wandered instead over to The Wall Street Journal to catch up on the overnight news.
While there, I discovered a lead story in the “Business” section with this title: “After Decades of Toil, Web Sales Remain Small for Many Retailers.”
The thesis was that, after two decades of e-commerce, many big retailers are struggling to have the Internet become a big part of their business.
And yet, Commerce Data showed that Internet sales increased 18.4 percent from a year earlier, far surpassing the broader retail growth of 4.7 percent.
So, what gives?
Perhaps some of those retailers aren’t keeping pace with the significant changes occurring with respect to both changing consumer behaviors, and in particular, the adoption of new shopping “tools” (most notably mobile smartphone and tablets) by consumers.
According to comScore, commerce transactions in the US on smartphones and tablets totaled $10.6 billion in the first half of this year alone. However, to put that number in some perspective, that number accounts for less than 10 percent of total digital commerce sales.
A recent IBM Institute for Business Value Study on the real-world use of big data in retail suggests there’s more than ample upside for retailers looking to grow across the entire span of channels (read: “omnichannel”).
To quote directly from the report (which you can download here), ”Now more than ever, consumers use data and technology to take control of their shopping experience. As consumer technology adoption and multi-channel shopping experiences become the norm, data becomes increasingly critical.”
The report then expands upon a common use case: A consumer might begin to research a product on a mobile app, purchase it online, then pick it up in the store.
The moral: Don’t put so much emphasis on which channel the final purchase was made, but instead look across the span of impact across multiple channels throughout the buying process.
The report goes on to observe that 62 percent of retailers they surveyed report that the use of information (including big-data) and analytics is creating a competitive advantage for their organizations.
But they’re taking a pragmatic, business-driven approach, first focusing on identifying business requirements, then tailoring infrastructure, data sources, and analytics to support new business opportunities.
Which brings me to the close, where I want to highlight an op-ed recently published by IBM Chief Economist Martin Fleming.
Fleming was responding to some recent media suggestions that big-data was an “economic dud,” that it had reached the peak of its hype cycle, and that we would soon be falling into Gartner’s “trough of disillusionment.”
But as Fleming counters, “big data is providing business and consumer value today.”
He highlights the energy industry, where with hydraulic fracturing technology, “millions of sensors [are generating] massive volumes of data that drive and govern exploration and production.”
Or how, through the use of smart grids, we’re “strengthening the electric power infrastructure with increased use of IT.”
Yes, we’re in the early stages of big-data deployments, argues Fleming, but “the value these applications create is not in the data but in the USE of the data.”
It’s the ability of organizations to apply analytic skills to drive change and transformation that is the road to the promised land of value creation.
You can read Fleming’s full post here.