Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion (US) bytes of data. Ninety per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, according to IBM. As we create more data than ever before, business intelligence is increasingly integral to success across the majority of industries.The world we live in is changing rapidly. Connected devices are becoming progressively intelligent, able to both digitise language and even understand it. The impact of this change is and will continue to be transformational. By 2020, the boundaries between how we observe and interact with the physical and virtual world will fade. The connected network of sensors and recording capabilities, such as video, coupled with the intelligence to interpret and understand the physical world, is providing metrics to optimise business performance and operations that bring the physical and the digital together at last.
Online companies have become the darlings of the tech scene over the past twenty years. They have supplanted traditional businesses by experimenting with new design and innovative capabilities to transformationally differentiate from their competitors.
Yet, driven by the same tech trends offline companies can do this too. The key upgrade that enables the physical business to compete here is by embracing a true, real and virtual world’s business intelligence to strengthen their operations and performance where online stores can’t follow. The physical and digital worlds can learn from each other and this convergence is providing benefits for both.
Improving customer experiences and success in retail
The retail industry is one of the main industries that can be revolutionised by the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Business intelligence has been improving customer experiences and profitability by enabling retailers to better understand and manage their environments in real-time. But what if the richness of the insights derived from online shopping behaviour and algorithms could also come from how consumers behave in the real world, with the same ease of collection and automated processing of the data?
Take 360° video as an example of how to get this data. From monitoring assets, compliance and safety in the supply chain to understanding how consumers react to the store display mannequins and navigate the shop floor, smart video and sensor-based analytics are driving real innovation. Retail businesses now have the capabilities to garner in-depth insights about their customers and staff, to identify specific needs quickly, cost effectively, non-obtrusively and objectively. Analytics can help optimise businesses by removing the tedious but necessary data crunching role, helping retail stores to recognise when customers require assistance or uncover workforce misbehaviour, providing solid evidence for the actions.
With successful online retailers such as Amazon making data and analytics core to their success success, brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to embrace data to enhance their offerings both in-store as well as online to deliver something online-only retailers cannot replicate in the real world, the optimum real-life customer experience.
Ninety percent of shoppers would prefer to buy in a brick-and-mortar store, according to the A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study. As well as benefiting businesses, greater access to better data is valuable to consumers too. In the on-demand world we live in, consumers expect seamless in-store experiences which can only come from personal data. Having access to customer’s previous purchases, and allying with what they pick up and reject before they get to the point of sale is the whole package. Added benefits around better customer routing, reducing queue times and knowledge of key areas of interest in the store, makes the whole experience more enjoyable, driving more consumers in-store as the experience in terms of management of the space, staff and assets is optimised.
Delivering the optimum hospitality experience and venue profitability
Another industry making strides in benefiting from business intelligence is hospitality. Business intelligence is acting as a driver to enable competitive advantage and deliver an enjoyable guest experience in very novel ways for a very traditional industry. Real-time insights and intelligence on returning guests can enable hotels and the hospitality sector in general to dramatically improve the guest experience. Comprehensive guest profiles allow for more personalised service. Take license plate recognition, for example. Hospitality businesses can recognise customers’ cars as they drive in, notify the concierge to greet them by name and flag it to the bar staff to prepare a cocktail. This personalised customer experience is helping hospitality businesses to remain relevant and competitive.
On a larger scale, venues need to have real-time data available to improve their operations. If you’re a live venue space, for instance, you need to be able to provide safety and security, as well as ensuring an enjoyable experience for guests. Doing this virtually is a cinch, but seeing and acting on data in the real world involves sensing, understanding and deciding on activity. That’s a huge step that needs a convergence of connectivity, sensors, intelligence and mobility.
2016 and beyond
There is a wealth of data at the centre of every business. It is the lifeblood of companies, delivering insights and intelligence on the company as a whole. We are becoming increasingly connected with the physical and digital worlds moving ever closer together. This is and will continue to provide marked benefits for businesses and consumers alike. The good news is, there is smart technology available to enable the intelligent insights businesses require to remain competitive and successful. As the physical and digital worlds continue to converge, the big picture is becoming ever clearer.
Soon every business will be able to make the most informed decisions by using data from the real world without the need to take staff off productive work to monitor, record and analyse the movements of every item of stock, evey inch of space, and the movement of every customer in real-time.