May 6, 2013/Derek Choy/Big Data

The big data movement has arrived with widespread, real-world use, and it’s advancing. Practitioners can access a lot of information, from diverse sources, and perform sophisticated analysis to help them anticipate what will happen and execute on goals.

There have been notable big data triumphs around milestone events that develop over lengthy cycles. An example is Nate Silver’s famously accurate state-by-state predictions of the last few national elections. He processes polling data, demographic trends, and other indicators over protracted periods leading up to the big day.

In business, a typical current use of big data is Wal-Mart’s assessment of what inventory is selling well in which regions. This is used to make sure that the the right items are stocked in the right locations. Unlike four-year election cycles, Wal-Mart’s distribution logistics are concerned with periods of weeks, months and quarters. Increasingly, big data can benefit activities with even shorter cycles.

At Aktana, we consider how to boost success by an enterprise’s customer-facing field representative. This person’s daily routine consists of a series of different types of interactions with multiple customers and prospects spread across a few locations. The rep rarely has opportunities to pore over statistical indicators in lengthy analysis sessions. Anyhow, such work would distract from the direct interpersonal engagement that tends to be their core competency. Realizing big data benefits in field activities requires compatibility with reps’ workflows and consideration of their live concerns.

The good news is that there are expanding capabilities to process information in real time, deliver it live to the field, and complete a virtuous cycle with live data provided from the field too. Where’s the rep’s current location? What customers and prospects are nearby? Are there recent marketing activities, like an email campaign, that might factor into discussion with these parties? Based on prior calls, is now a time they are likely to be available and receptive? The answers to such questions can present field employees with streamlined and practical suggestions on which they can immediately act.

When field employees get live delivery of actionable analysis, new benefits are realized through big data technologies’ expanding applicability and shortening cycles.