Using data analytics to build customer understanding and trust


Rod Smith, Vice President of Emerging Internet Technologies at IBM, feels that the future of big data


isn’t in the hands of the few, but the many:

Data scientists are all the craze, but I’m not sure it’s going to last. A business ultimately wants to have tools and applications use and exploit the data with calling the experts in.

And that’s been the focus of his team, they understand that businesses don’t want barriers to get that data, so they work closely with businesses to see how they can create systems that empower the customer to be the master of their own data.

A vital part of this process is understanding that the data and the technology should be created to serve the business – and not the other way around.

An issue with the analytics is that impact on the business can be very slow. In order for businesses to make agile, accurate decisions, there is an increasing need to get that analysis faster. Before, it might have been six months until a business got an analysis, through cornerstone technology; IBM can create a system that gives you that information in 20 minutes. Which means that the customer now wants it in 20 milliseconds.

They gave a fantastic demonstration of how this comes into play. One of their customers, a New York based company called Executive Transportation Group, are a leading provider of car services.

The VP of the group has an incredibly knowledge of the field and his biggest concern is that he wants to make both his customers and drivers happier, and given his knowledge, he felt as though he coulc do it better – by getting the customers to their destinations faster, and by ensuring that the drivers spend less time in traffic so they can earn more fares.

He also knew that the answer to this was in the data, but didn’t have the horsepower to extract it. He also wanted a system that could see and interpret pickups over time.

IBM was asked to create him a system, so they made a web application – the Executive Car Service Dashboard.

They system looked at:

  • the incoming calls
  • the dispatches
  • the time involved from the driver getting to the customer
  • where all the other cars were in relation to the pickup

New York also uses a grid system, so IBM could look at all the grids that they might have used.

When the VP started to use the program, he was able to see that his hunch had been correct, there were much faster and easier routes the drivers should have been taking.

Armed with this, he took it to his executives so that they could have a look and plan accordingly. What is interesting about this example is that the VP knew that the data was there, he even knew what insights it could contain, he just needed a way to quickly and easily extract it and display it to make his case.

This example highlights what we could be easily doing with data. Analysis, won’t be for the business analyst, it will just be for the business owner who wants answers to how they could be serving their customer better.

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