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Big Data jumps to the cloud

Maria Korolov | July 9, 2013
Big Data-as-a-Service offers quick, inexpensive, targeted analytics

In the past, performance reporting would be based on the first click on an ad, he says. Now, Indochino can look at a transaction and see all the touch-points that led up to the customer making the final purchase decision.

"The big question is which marketing channels are contributing how much to revenues," says Tom Cole, CEO of Beau-coup, an online party retailer that is also a Convertro customer.

"We are now able to very precisely allocate our marketing budget because we now have a very good view of what each channel is contributing," he says. Cole says the increase in marketing ROI has been "significant" as a result, but declined to provide specific numbers.

Sales and marketing is a major target of many Big Data as a service vendors. Like Dell, other companies have salespeople wondering who they should call first, and what they should talk about when the other guy picks up the phone.

Texas-based truck parts manufacturer FleetPride recently deployed SalesMax, a predictive sales application from Zilliant, in Austin, Texas. "When we initially rolled out the program the sales people didn't believe the data," says Rick Turner, FleetPride's national sales director. "We had to put the analysis in relatable terminology and once we got buy in and the field began to use the data, they were pleasantly surprised about how accurate and helpful it was."

For example, the tool can predict when customers are thinking of defecting by analyzing historical transactions, and data from CRMs platforms, internal data warehouses, social sources and third-party databases.

Business magazine publisher SourceMedia uses a Big Data vendor, Scout Analytics, to tell which trial subscription users would be most likely to convert to a paid subscription, and which current customers are not getting much out of their subscriptions and may be thinking of canceling.

"We'll send them an email with stories relevant to them, remind them of the site," says SourceMedia's Adam Reinebach, executive vice president of marketing solutions and circulation.

Avoiding the silo effect
Big Data as a service can offer fast and inexpensive tools that businesses can sometimes deploy with little or no input from IT, and can offer immediate benefits.

"Individually, all the different point applications that are running in the cloud can be adding value," says Ron Bodkin, founder and CEO of Think Big Analytics, a Big Data consulting firm. "But collectively, it can be a nightmare."

Companies that don't plan ahead could wind up with problems integrating data from different Big Data systems, and end up with a lot of duplication, he says.

But according to Dell's Walker, getting Big Data analytics as a service from a vendor actually allows for more connectivity than otherwise possible. For example, if Dell wants to partner with, say, VMware, Lattice Engines enables the companies to aggregate certain types of data.


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