It’s easy to be both impressed and overwhelmed at the same time when you realize the sheer volume of relevant data sets available in the world, waiting to be harvested for meaningful insight. Even information about the sheer amount of information is, itself, big data.
As you no doubt recognize, big data has crossed from mere idea to physical reality. Rumor has it that traditional products aren't the only things Amazon stores in vast warehouses — data has also joined the ranks.
As Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt describe in The Human Face of Big Data, big data is an “extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life.” Smolan and Erwitt share how it’s “already enabling us to provide a healthier life for our children. To provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe. To help us conserve precious resources like water and energy. To alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness. To peer into our own individual genetic makeup. To create new forms of life. And soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface…”
It is common knowledge that we now produce as much data every two days as we did from the dawn of time to 2003. That is some serious data generation. It seems every move we make as human beings these days is being digitized and stored somewhere in mind-boggling strings of 0's and 1's. The challenge is turning the constant flow of 0's and 1's into relevant, timely and meaningful insight.
Given the volume, variety and velocity of data coming into your convenience retail location and network (product SKUs and transaction data; loyalty program data; fuel pricing data, including intraday pricing data points for each site), avoiding becoming "DRIP" (data rich, insight poor) is the greatest challenge.
The overriding consensus in controlling the DRIP reality appears to be appropriate human intervention with technological backing. The appropriate human intervention appears to be required at two key points in time; not surprisingly, at the beginning and end of your plunge into data. At the beginning, you must use human insight to set goals. At the end, you must exit with a set of meaningful takeaways.
After all, retail success is dependent on making sense of what's happening at your locations and in your network. Information fuels your pricing strategies, merchandise decisions and macro and micro operational choices, from supply chain selections to square footage space considerations. But all that information can get a bit unwieldy.
For the convenience retailer, managing the challenges inherent in big data involves finding the right partner — one that will help set goals appropriate to the organization, scour the data to find insights and present those insights in a meaningful manner. Your partner should possess not only the skills and technology to manage the data deluge, but also the industry knowledge and experience to help executives and store operators make smarter decisions based on meaningful insights.
What are your big data challenges?
Kalibrate is home to the largest verified global data set of fuel and convenience retail intelligence in the world. We can help bring insight to the mountains of data.