The business environment has evolved immensely as compared to what it used to be 10 years ago. Gone are the days where business persons relied solely on their ‘acumen’ and ‘gut feeling’ to achieve favorable outcomes. Today, CRM and POS systems have replaced Rolodex and Cash Registers; and the current business environment is witnessing an increasing boost in performance, productivity, profitability, availability, and security.
There are numerous contributors to this pace of digital transformation of businesses, and ICT is one such. Information and Communication Technology, commonly touted as ICT, involves the use of software applications and communication devices to convert, store, protect and retrieve information. It provides a base for stimulating innovation and driving efficiencies by combining information, technology, and processes; thereby enabling interaction in the digital world.
A recent phenomenon in the business sphere is the increasing reliance on big data. Oxford defines Big Data as “Extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.” More than three quintillion bytes of data are created every day. With so much information at your disposal, how do you extract the weed from the green? The potential of big data can be leveraged through analytics, which is a refined process involving collection, organization, and analyses of that data to discover patterns and gather intelligence. This allows for a better understanding of customer demographics, optimizing work operations, predicting future trends and market needs, measure past problems, identify trends or gaps, examine conversions, capture sentiments, and track product or service consumption, among others.
Take for instance Netflix, the 10th largest company in the world (by revenue). They’ve changed their business model to stay ahead of the times, have evolved with new technologies and adapted to the new market. From a DVD rental company with 30 employees, it rose to a global video streaming giant with close to 100 million subscribers. They use data analysis to evaluate trends in viewership, trending content, colors of the programming visuals, devices used, the time duration of the content being watched, how much content is watched.
How did this help? Now, Netflix does not need to release pilots (sample episode) of its original shows and they have an 80% success rate as compared to 20-30% of the traditional TV shows. They target their advertisements and recommend shows to specific users, which cuts down on the efforts spent in promotional campaigns. It knows how to retain subscribers by giving them ‘what they want’, ‘when they want’; which further helps them expand their customer base.
ICT is closely linked to the emergence of Big Data as it captures its richest sources. These include digital footprints (records stored by companies, commercial transactions, sensor data, tweets, etc.); data captured by content providers, telecommunication operators, and internet companies. It is increasingly becoming an important part of the future of ICT.
The bottom line is that most businesses fall flat on the face on account of failure to adapt with the times and embrace trends. If a business is running the same way it did 10 years ago, chances are, it won’t have to for long! It is advisable to connect with ICT experts who are capable of providing intelligence on external and internal operations to support managerial decision makers; thereby ensuring business success.