Successful businesses use big data to make critical decisions that improve their operations. The more data, the better. Knowing how to use big data is essential to growing and scaling your business. 

What Is Big Data?

Big data describes large, complex volumes of both structured and unstructured data. Organizations collect this vast data, which can then be mined and analyzed for information to address business problems. On top of that, companies can use big data to set plans and goals that further grow their business.

Why Is Big Data Important?

Analyzing big data can give your company a competitive edge over other businesses. You can use it for many activities that grow your organization, such as:

  • Improving operations
  • Providing better customer service
  • Creating targeted marketing campaigns
  • Uncovering hidden trends and behaviors from customers
  • Discovering new business opportunities

Big data analytics can also save time by reducing data-related costs and improving business efficiency. Plus, it saves you time researching and planning by helping you decide faster.

How to use Big Data: Applications in 8 Different Industries

Big data is a game-changer for almost any business. Regardless of your industry, the insights you gain from it can alter the course of your operations and yield unprecedented returns.

1. Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Providers

Healthcare providers have access to vast amounts of data. However, many depend on labor-intensive data aggregation and analysis to uncover patient insights. As a result, many fail to produce faster and better patient outcomes. On top of that, they fail to combat rising healthcare costs.

Big data providers like Xevant track touch points along a pharmaceutical client’s care experience, such as purchasing or refilling prescriptions. They use this information to identify trends, inefficiencies, revenue leaks, and other insights that help save clients time and money.

Hospitals also apply big data analytics to solve unique challenges in their industry. One French hospital uses data to predict how many patients they’ll have and how much staff they’ll need. This knowledge reduces staff costs and prevents patient care issues caused by understaffing.

2. Government Organizations

Big data can help governments make swift decisions backed by real data. These decisions can lead to results as small as saving money on expenditures or as impactful as changes that lower traffic congestion or reduce crime.

In one example, the city of Dubuque, Iowa, partnered with IBM to install smart water meters in homes. By collecting data about water usage, they implemented water sustainability plans throughout the city. As a result, the city saved over 50 million gallons of water while increasing revenue by $180,000.

3. Education

Schools collect a wealth of data in the form of student grades. These grades come from exams, homework, projects, and other assignments. On top of that, students accumulate data throughout their lives, leaving behind a unique trail of grades and behaviors.

Educational institutions can use these data sets in many ways. In terms of big data, they can identify common trends among students and identify areas for improvement. That way, schools and districts can focus efforts on specific study areas if students lag behind.

4. Retailers and Wholesalers

Whether a brick-and-mortar shop or an e-commerce business, retailers and wholesalers can gather vast swaths of data from sales transactions and other sources. That data can provide valuable insights that increase revenue and boost efficiencies. But analyzing it can be labor-intensive, resulting in lost sales, lost opportunities, or ineffective marketing.

Retailers can harvest data by monitoring online activity and transactions. This way, the company can observe changes in customer trends and gather insights that boost marketing efforts and increase customer satisfaction.

5. Manufacturing

Companies that produce consumer and capital goods use big data to solve issues related to manufacturing and distribution. For one, they can draw conclusions that help them optimize their production output or improve worker safety. Big data can also help manufacturers understand consumer demands and prioritize their production lines.

Supply chain management is another issue multiple industries face. Big data can help manufacturing companies understand what products they need from suppliers and what to stockpile. In turn, it helps sustain their business even when times are tough.

6. Banking and Finance

Banks and financial institutions deal with many challenges, including fraud detection, customer privacy, trade analytics, IT operations, and other issues. They need to use big data to understand the financial market and discern behaviors from both customers and fraudulent groups.

Identity fraud hit over 42 million people in 2021. As such, fraud protection is an increasingly important concern for many people. Banks and other organizations use big data to analyze and detect suspicious activities like card charges, credit applications, or withdrawals. This way, they can predict these behaviors and minimize any damage caused to an individual and their finances.

7. Logistics and Transportation

Big data can play a critical role in optimization for logistics and transportation companies. Data can accumulate from weather reports, customer reservations, sensors on trucks, and a host of other methods. Companies can use this data to plan the most efficient route for their drivers.

For example, UPS used big data analytics to increase their savings and improve their environmental impact. Data showed that trucks turning left caused issues like delays, excess fuel consumption, and safety risks to drivers. 

Consequently, they used big data to plan more efficient routes and implement a policy for drivers to avoid turning left. As a result, UPS stated it “uses 10m gallons less fuel, emits 20,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide, and delivers 350,000 more packages every year.”

8. Media and Entertainment

Social media, gaming, video streaming, and other apps and services are part of everyday life. And since so many people have at least one personal device, it’s easier than ever for media companies to collect big data.

There are countless ways the media and entertainment industries can use big data. Advertisers can use it to create highly targeted ads based on user behavior. They can also use it to understand what kinds of advertisements people respond to the best.

Entertainment companies also use big data for planning and scheduling. For example, streaming services often release new shows and episodes on specific days. With a live event, big data can help organizations schedule the optimal time when they’ll get the most engagement.

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