Big data in little hands: It happens with mobile

July 31, 2013 | by Jitendra Gupta
Big data in little hands: It happens with mobile

The advertising world reeled on July 28 when it learned two of the industry’s largest firms, Omnicon and Publicis, merged to form the largest ad company on the planet.

The marriage wasn’t about shared dowries of overflowing creative resources, the attraction behind this hookup centered on technology and increased access to mind-boggling amounts of customer data.

According to a story in the New York Times, Publicis chief executive Maurice Lévy said the combined companies will be able to leverage their “advertising technologies to crunch billions of pieces of data ‘in order to come with a message which is relevant to a very narrow audience.’”

That’s the antithesis of broadcast media, still the priciest and, for ad agencies, the most glamorous form of marketing ever created.

In the advertising industry, a collection of such a huge amount of customer data — actual purchases, considered purchases, demographic information, etc.— is commonly called Big Data. In a world in which customers have so many choices, the size of the database about them matters a lot.

I like to look at data a bit differently. To me, customer information that’s truly valuable and actionable to a restaurateur is Rich Data. This is rock solid customer information based on purchasing history at a particular restaurant. Even better, Rich Data includes customers’ demographic data, social data, opinions about restaurant products and the experience in general.

Not only is Rich Data provided willingly by customers, restaurateurs who capture that information own it outright. They’re not paying Yelp or Google or Facebook — or Omnicon or Publicis — for information about their customers, they have it already — in exacting detail.

The pizza industry has more data than any other restaurant segment for years through the wise use of point-of-sale systems. When their customers call for delivery, they provide their names, their addresses, telephone numbers and their product preferences. What they still lack though, is demographic data, social data and customer reviews and that is where mobile technology comes into play. Just as Omnicon and Publicis realized, mobile technology allows restaurants to get rich data that is changing the game by enabling rich 360 degree profiles that enable targeted offers.

With its pioneering work in Internet marketing and sales data collection, Google has upped the ante by tracking customer preferences based on what websites billions of Internet users browse and buy from and read. Selling that data has become a $50 billion annual revenue stream for the company—data it wants to sell to restaurants.

But operators who understand the power of existing technology know they don’t have to buy it. They are aware that with mobile phone-based apps they can actually engage their customers who have always been looking to engage with their favorite restaurants. In addition, they can track customer purchasing habits, and provide forums to customers to drive online conversation instead of just being a bystander. What a combo: Demographics, social data, hard purchasing data plus feelings and opinions!

Rich Data also is the product of good relationships between brands and their customers. Much of Big Data is general information gathered when customers take part in surveys, open online accounts with retailers or, grudgingly, provide in order to get a discount deal.

To restaurants, customers give Rich Data willingly when they like a brand’s products and talk about it online. That such valuable, actionable information is acquired nearly for free surely must irritate data resellers, behemoths competing for control of Big Data. And the information in which these companies are investing heavily is the same information that a single restaurateur can acquire and act upon with the right technology.

The idea of Big Data—no, Rich Data—in small hands is a delicious notion for restaurateurs!

Topics: Online / Mobile / Social, Operations Management, Systems / Technology

Jitendra Gupta
Jitendra Gupta is a Co-Founder and Head of Product at Punchh, a mobile engagement and actionable insights platform that includes branded mobile apps for campaigns, games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, referrals, reviews, gift cards, surveys, and integrates with social networks and operators’ POS systems to gather 360° customer insights. Punchh helps restaurants increase same store sales and profitability by driving repeat visits, word of mouth, new customer referrals, and higher returns from marketing campaigns. wwwView Jitendra Gupta's profile on LinkedIn

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