In our digital world, data is being generated everywhere, from browsing habits and banking transactions to local weather readings and motorway traffic flows. Only the corporations that are able to capture, analyse and capitalise on this wealth of ‘Big Data’ will benefit and hold on to customers in ever-more competitive business environments.

Why data counts

By drawing on customer, supplier and external data sources, businesses can become more informed, enabling them to take steps to improve customer service, spot new business opportunities, identify product issues, enhance operational efficiencies and head off competitors.

In a world of contracting revenues and rising costs, interpreting and acting on such information is crucial.

Capitalising on the data

A number of companies are already reaping the benefits of Big Data, using innovative ways to extract meaning, and therefore advantage, from the data.

By combining demographics and browsing data, leading economist Benjamin Shiller was able to develop a predictive formula for TV streaming service Netflix, forecasting how much specific customers would be willing to pay for a subscription at a given time. Tailoring and varying the prices in this way enabled Netflix to attract a 1.39% higher profit margin based on customer age and previous purchase behaviour.

Worldwide shipping company UPS has been drawing on Big Data for years, analysing traffic and vehicle-sensor information to optimise routes and minimise breakdowns. These measures have enabled UPS to save $50 million annually in fuel, maintenance and time. Data also helped UPS reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 14,000 metric tons.

Putting data to good use

It’s not just big business that is making the most out of Big Data. Most major charitable organisations now readily leverage customer data to drive donations.

Extracting data from its social networks and customer donations collected in-house, online crowd donation firm GiveNext is able to analyse and anticipate giving behaviour. The company can share its findings with the charities in its network, reducing the work these charities would otherwise have to do on their own.

For example, GiveNext data showed that humanities graduates aged between 45 and 65 were more likely than other graduates to give to local environmental concerns, highlighting that environmental protection-focused charities should concentrate their resources on that particular demographic.

With the goal of identifying high-value donors, Parkinson’s UK analyses the data of every new supporter on their fundraising database every two weeks. It’s the insights from this analysis that enable the charity to cultivate more rewarding relationships with their supporters. As a result Parkinson’s UK’s income from major gifts has grown from £1.1m to £3.5m, since 2010.

Cultivating a career in data

Turning data into insights like these not only requires an understanding of the data and technology available, it also demands an appreciation of the dynamics of business.

Combining the worlds of data science and business management, the University of Bath’s Business Analytics online MSc will equip you with both the technical knowhow and the business acumen to advance a career in this exciting and fulfilling field.

For those individuals armed with this unique combination of skills, there is a golden opportunity to capture and manipulate Big Data to protect or improve the returns of profit and non-profit organisations alike, anywhere in the world.

Learn to harness the power of Big Data for yourself – apply to study Business Analytics online MSc at the University of Bath today by completing the form below.

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