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More businesses looking to capture and use big data in 2013

Rachel Wheeler Archive
It's been predicted that 2013 could be the year that big data becomes more than a buzz word as mainstream companies invest in the tools and analytics professionals they need to harness vast amounts of content, verify strong data quality and glean valuable nuggets of insight.

Big data presents advantages across industries
More data is being created every second, as tech-savvy individuals complete transactions at point-of-sale terminals, add their names to contact lists, upload images to social sharing sites, send emails and tweet messages, reports The Huffington Post. Companies that are still relying on their traditional business intelligence platforms might not be able to capture and use information from those types of unstructured content, which represent 80 percent of data on the planet.

When companies do update their practices and acquire the tools and data scientists they need, they stand to benefit from a number of advantages. Better business management in real time, mass customization and more intelligent products were three benefits listed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS in a recent survey.

Capturing the data that was previously unattainable and using it to make more informed decisions could result in major impacts to resource allocation and timely decision making, and some organizations have already begun to see those results. For instance, in 2011, the Santa Cruz Police Department began sorting through its records to learn about crime patterns. Since applying that data, the department has seen a drop in incidents and a decrease in the number of officers needed to adequately handle them.

Retailers can cater to customer preferences
Many retailers are already collecting huge amounts of customer data in order to personalize buying experiences in the future, M.J. Munsell, retail architect, recently told NPR.

"They're putting together both that structured point-of-sale information, which is what you bought, when, with some of those unstructured things that are about you as a person, in order to help develop a better customized assortment of products for you," Munsell explained.

Personalization is expected to become a bigger part of shopping experiences in the new year as customers continue investing in mobile devices and use them to interact with their favorite brands through applications and websites.

For instance, shoppers who have downloaded mobile apps or signed up for customer loyalty programs might receive special offers or personalized messages on their devices as they walk past stores or pull into parking lots, Munsell told the source. Using information from customers' previous transactions, browsing histories and social media posts, stores can suggest products they might be interested in buying or recommend items that will complement those they have already purchased.