How business could focus on Big Data

On Wednesday September 23 Boukje visited the Big Data Expo in the Jaarbeurshallen in Utrecht. As a fresh Data Science graduate she would like to see what the current status is of Big Data in the Netherlands. This day she attended several presentations. A short review.

The goal of the Big Data Expo was to give individuals, data scientist and companies more insights in how they can implement big data within the business. The aim of using big data is to get more reliable data and insights about customers so companies  have more beneficial information than their competition. But today’s question is not if companies need to focus on Big Data but how? Within the Big Data Expo hall, stands scattering all around with people promoting their data warehouse systems and analytics tools to  show companies what tools make big data analyses possible. More informative were the five rooms: two keynote rooms and 3 lectures halls with each having its own theme: “Connect your business with IT”, “Big Data: changing lives” and “Improve Customer Experience with Big Data”. Boukje visited several presentations of companies who presented their case and gave visitors practical information about the use of Big Data.

Opta-Sports data growth and processing power

The first presentation was of Opta Sports about data and football, the perfect combination for Boukje as football addict and data geek. According to Boukje, Opta Sports has anticipated really well on the enormous data growth and increase in processing power. “Real-time analysis during matches, advanced analytics to make forecasts, video and image processing, everything is used to gain more insights in football. In the Netherlands sport analytics is not as big as in England, where Opta Sports assists 19 of the 20 Premier League clubs, but it is gaining popularity”. For the ones interested in sports analytics, Opta Sports created OptaJoe which shares all kinds of interesting facts on social media.

Miscalculation in predicting

Next on the list was a presentation about visualizations provided by TU Eindhoven. However, it turned out that the organization did not use sufficient analytics to predict the number of visitors of the Big Data Expo, as a result lecture rooms were way too small. “As a result, I could not attend the presentation. A pity since I like the explanatory power of a strong picture”.

Instead Boukje attented the presentation of Dell about the down-side of big data. The ease people give up their privacy and the many Data breaches, which occurred in the past decade, were discussed. To get an impression of the size of this problem have a look at this visualization. “Conclusion of this session? People will not stop paying with their privacy online, however it is the task of the company to safeguard these data. Something which is done in the right way by major players such as Google”.

The most striking example of this session was probably the quote of Jason Spaltro in 2007, back then Sony’s executive director of information security, who said: ‘I will not invest $10 million to avoid a possible $1 million loss’. “Something which he definitely regrets after the hack in 2014 where basically everything of the company was stolen and the cost of the breach were reaching far beyond $10 million dollar”.

The next stop was a presentation of Post NL, a company with a closer link to the daily practices of ArgusI. However, as the theme of the lecture room already suggested this presentation was about customer experience. withthe main focuson preventing  fraud. Yearly ecommerce companies have 100 million euro damage due to fraud. To fight fraud PostNL developed a real-time data platform. The strength of this data platform lies in the combination of multiple data sources which lead to new insights.

Big Data customer journey

The presentation of Transavia focussed on a better customer journey via Big Data. The title of the presentation was: ‘Door Big Data naar volle vluchten en de beste passagiersbeleving’. A title which suggests that it involves some kind of transport optimization. Unfortunately, this was not discussed in this lecture. Transavia is the perfect example of a company who can create a perfect customer journey, since it is involved in every step of the process from searching and booking until travelling and after care. To optimize the customer journey many data sources are taking into account such as prices of competitors, capacity of airplanes but also personal features. A/B testing helps with validating new hypothesis.

During the presentation of EY (former i3) about predictive analytics in retail, three often made mistakes were discussed. According to EY the three main pillars to keep in mind while implementing data analytics into a company are:

  1. Data analytics is a journey of discovery. Don’t create a fixed scope. See what comes your way during the data science journey.
  2. Involve domain experts. Solutions based on data do not always work in practice, therefore keep close contact with people from the field.
  3. Support is more important than state of the art model techniques. Don’t make the data science team a hobby club. Someone inside the company must have interest in it.

The lecture of Bruna’s COO about predicting the optimal location for a new store based on data was the last of the day. Definitely the subject with the closest link to our daily practices at Argusi. The optimization part of Bruna is mainly outsourced and therefore the COO spoke mainly about the implementation. A hard task for Bruna, with many franchisers, is convincing the shop owners, since everyone thinks their store is the best. To achieve this, clear dashboards were created, to show the storeowner what’s in it for him.

Make Big Data a success or leave it

“It is good to see that there is much interest in Big Data in the Netherlands; many people of different fields were present at the Big Data Expo. The strength of Big Data is the growth of available data and improvements in processing power which enables us to combine multiple data sources. But quantity does not always lead to better quality”. Based on the Expo a couple of things should definitely be taken into account while implementing big data, according to Boukje. “There should be support inside the company, everybody needs to believe in it. There must be an understanding through all layers in the organisation otherwise you will not get the best out of Big Data. Visualizing the result to communicate is the best way to present Big Data. And last, it is really important to safeguard your data. It sounds logic, but rethink carefully how safe your internal and external network is secured”.

More information about the Big Data Expo presentations can be found here.

About Boukje

Boukje has recently finished her master in Data Science and her master in Operations & Research Management at Tilburg University and works since March 2017 at Argusi as Supply Chain Analyst at Programming and Data Science is what she loves most and at Argusi she is developing and implementing this for the use in projects.