Retailers lack big data skills

8 April 2013
NEW YORK: Many retailers are unprepared for the coming tidal wave of big data being generated by consumers using smartphones and tablets, according to a leading industry figure.

Brian Lent, cofounder of Medio, a provider of predictive analytics products for the mobile industry and previously a director of information technology at Amazon, told Information Week that retailers must develop predictive models to identify and monetize mobile customers.

"You can collect and store a lot of data efficiently," he said. "But if you don't know how to take that data, do analytics on it, and put it into operational use, you don't get the real value out of it."

Retailers, he recommended, should take action to achieve this, including the development of mobile apps that enable rich data collection.

Real value could mean developing the right set of predictive models to help deliver relevant ads, offers, and promotions and so retain customers.

"The only way to do that in a balanced fashion is with what we call closed loop optimisation," he said, "meaning that as the user clicks on the mobile app, and then the data is logged, we produce a recommendation."

"It's the real-time component that makes big data actionable," he noted.

Away from purely technical issues, turf wars are looming as Lent predicted that Big Data would increasingly become the responsibility of the chief marketing officer (CMO) rather than the chief information officer.

"The CMO is going to be spending more IT dollars because the CMO, in marketing areas, is driving a lot of the demands for big data," he said.

The people component was also highlighted in a recent Admap article which argued that the new role of data scientist needed to be supplemented with the human insight of behavioural experts if brands were to benefit from a mountain of data.

"Maths and Magic should be bedfellows", said the authors.

Data sourced from Information Week; additional content by Warc staff
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