August 8, 2014

Harnessing Big Data to Drive Channel Sales

There is a lot of talk, articles and buzz around big data. But what does “big data” mean? How does it affect channel sales? And how can you use it to improve your business? These are the common questions we hear with the recent emergence of the “big data” era.  Simply put, big data is the massive amount of information and analytics available to us in the 21st century that is attributed to advances in technology. All of this information helps companies to make smarter business decisions, analyze customers and channel partners, and ultimately evolve within their industry. The challenge is to know what data is relevant, how to sort through it and how to act on it.

But just how big is big data? A blog posted on channelinsight.com earlier this year provided some great observations as to how large big data really is. “By 2020 one third of all data will be stored, or will have passed through the cloud, and we will have created 35 zeta bytes worth of data.” To get a better understanding of how big this actually is, Channel Insight provided some eye-popping statistics about Walmart and big data: “It is estimated that Walmart collects more than 2.5 petabytes of data every hour from its customer transactions. A petabyte is one quadrillion bytes, or the equivalent of about 20 million filing cabinets’ worth of text.”

But having an understanding of big data and just how massive it is doesn’t show how companies can use it to make smarter business decisions. A recent blog on CRN.com explained the importance of big data to organizations. “The data created with each interaction in this value chain is a treasure trove of market intelligence. Mining channel data yields invaluable insights to help IT providers answer critical questions.”  These insights can range from determining ROI on marketing campaigns to understanding which channel partners drive and fulfill marketplace demand, all of which greatly impact business decisions. In order to turn data into actionable intelligence, companies should ask these four questions to determine if they are collecting the right data, and using it in meaningful ways:

  • What data is currently being collected?
  • What is our process for reporting and using the data? Is there a process?
  • Who is evaluating the data? Do they understand the goals and purpose?
  • Are we taking action when it makes sense or trying to respond to every data point?

If you are collecting data, evaluate if you are capturing the right information to make decisions regarding your channels. At minimum, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What segments – geography, products, and/or audiences—are showing increased activity and promise?
  • What incentives or marketing promotions have the greatest impact?
  • Which channel partners are driving the most growth?

As the world continues to grow in population and technology continues to advance, the amount of big data will reach exponentially greater numbers. The key piece to this puzzle is figuring out how to understand and analyze this massive amount of data, and use it to drive better, smarter decisions that support your company’s business model.

To see a case study on how Marketing Innovators helped a company improve its channel incentive program: Case Study

Resources:

http://channelinsight.com/blog/10-interesting-facts-about-big-data

http://www.crn.com/blogs-op-ed/data-center/300072206/big-data-in-the-channel-an-untapped-growth-opportunity.htm

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