Tracking Customer Demand Using Real-Time Data Analytics

Using Big Data to Understand the Ever-Changing Customer

You may know your customers well – at least today. The tricky thing about customer demand is that, just like your business, your customer preferences are always changing. If you want to continue to understand customer behaviors going forward, you need ongoing, real-time data analytics.

The idea that your customers are always changing is probably not news to you. You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that customers are living, breathing, dynamic creatures. Your customer demand today will not necessarily be what they want tomorrow.

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Yet what’s remarkable is just how quickly customer trends and behaviors can change. In many businesses, markets over the past several years have grown more dynamic than they have ever been. Finding and keeping customers, therefore, requires continuous visibility into the data that helps you understand what your customers want and need, and how the market is currently meeting their demands.

Quick Shifts in Customer Demand: An Example

To illustrate this point, let’s take a quick look at an example based on historical data regarding Android vs. iPhone market share.Quick Shifts in Customer Demand: An Example -- iPhone vs. AndroidAs Marketing Magazine reported in the spring of 2012, Android and iPhone sales in December 2011 had been almost identical, with Android claiming 45.4 percent of the market and iPhones 44.3 percent.

Just a month later, those numbers had changed significantly. By January 2012, Android phones were accounting for 55.1 percent of the market, while Apple devices had declined to 37.3 percent.

The fluctuations continued in the months that followed: in February, sales of Android phones accounted for 46.5% of the market and Apple devices accounted for 42.7%. March 2012 showed a significant change; Android phones were at 58.5% and iPhone sales dropped to 29.9%.

This is just one example, of course. It’s from several years ago, and Android vs. iPhone sales may be of no interest to your business.

But that’s not the point. What’s important here is that this example illustrates just how quickly and significantly customer demand can change.

If your business strategy in 2012 depended on knowing the relative market share of Android and iPhone devices, and you didn’t continuously track changes in demand, you might have made misinformed assumptions about customer preferences based on data that was no longer representative of reality just a month after it was collected.

Data Analytics and Continuous Customer Visibility

Fortunately, you have a resource available for ensuring that your understanding of your customers always remains up-to-date.

Data analytics – specifically, real-time data analytics – are the solution.

By collecting and analyzing data like sales transactions records, customer browsing behavior or keyword searches on your websites on a continuous basis, you can identify and react to shifts in customer expectations or desires instantaneously.

This is the key to staying on top of rapidly changing markets and ensuring that you always have a 360-degree view of your customers, even if your average customer changes or evolves rapidly.

Achieving Real-Time Data Analytics

Implementing a real-time data analytics solution may appear easier said than done. After all, collecting and interpreting massive amounts of data in real time is no mean feat.

This is especially true if some or all of your data originates on mainframes or other legacy systems that are not well integrated into modern data analytics platforms designed for real-time processing, like Hadoop and Spark. If you’re in a business like retail, insurance, or banking, there’s a very good chance that you still depend on mainframes to process the transaction or behavior data that is key to understanding your customers.

Syncsort specializes in moving that data quickly from mainframe environments into Hadoop, Spark or another modern data analytics platform – and ensuring that it is an easy process to do so. Syncsort enables automatic, real-time data ingestion from enterprise-wide platforms including legacy systems into Hadoop data lakes.

Download our new eBook, “Getting Closer to Your Customers in a Big Data World” to learn more about the different sources of this data, which data points are critical in obtaining, and tips for customer 360 success.

Christopher Tozzi

Authored by Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has written about emerging technologies for a decade. His latest book, For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution, is forthcoming with MIT Press in July 2017.
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