Helping organizations tackle big data, social media challenges

  • 63% of respondents gaining competitive advantage by using big data and analytics, says Oxford-IBM survey
  • Enterprises across all industries under increasing pressure to extract new insights from explosion of available data

Helping organizations tackle big data, social media challengesIBM has unveiled a new digital marketing system and big data software that it claimed were designed to help organizations gain ‘actionable insights’ on the broadest range of data to transform the way they do business with customers, employees and partners.

The new offerings tackle the most pressing big data challenges facing organizations today -- accessing and gaining intelligence into an enormous stream of data generated from mobile, social and digital networks, the company said in a statement (click infographic to enlarge).

The offerings, part of IBM's big data platform, can be up and running in hours, analyze petabytes of industry-specific and social media data in sub-second response times, and continuously analyze geospatial, financial services and telecommunications data in motion, IBM said, unveiling the offerings at the IBM Information On Demand & Business Analytics Forum 2012.

According to Gartner, worldwide big data IT spending will grow from US$27 billion in 2012 to US$55 billion in 2016. Enterprises across all industries are under increasing pressure to extract new insights from an explosion of available data.

In communications, six billion global mobile phone subscribers are demanding unique and personalized offerings that match their individual lifestyles. In financial services, Wall Street firms generate five new research documents every minute. In addition, nearly US$100 billion in total sales are missed each year because retailers don’t have the right products in stock to meet customer demand.

IBM said it is also bolstering its cloud analytics offerings across industries. The first of its kind portfolio of cloud-hosted applications deliver predictive analytics directly to a company's line of business employees.

Financial services, retail, and education industry clients can use the new software to develop personalized insurance renewals, conduct retail purchase analysis, and tailor new programs for student retention through the IBM SmartCloud.

A recent global survey by the University of Oxford and IBM of 1,144 business and IT professionals from 95 countries and 26 industries shows 63% of respondents are gaining a competitive advantage by using big data and analytics for their organizations. This is a 70% increase from the 37% who cited a competitive advantage in a 2010 IBM study.

The new offerings bring together IBM's own R&D with acquired technologies from Vivisimo and Unica to provide clients with federated data and Web analytics capabilities combined in a big data analytics platform.
The new offerings include: 

For CMOs

The emergence of big data technologies is driving the transformation of marketing for every channel. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are now responsible for analyzing consumer demands from social media, mobile devices, and traditional channels, and aligning these demands with product development and sales.

The new IBM Digital Analytics Accelerator helps CMOs tap into consumer sentiment to create targeted advertising and promotions, avoid customer churn, and perform advanced Web analytics that predict customer needs, IBM claimed.

Now, CMOs can bring advanced analytics to all their social media, web traffic, and customer communication behind their own firewall.

For communications services providers

Communications Services Providers (CSPs) are under increased pressure to analyze big data coming from their networks to improve service, detect fraud and reduce customer churn.

Developed by IBM Research, InfoSphere Streams software can analyze and share data in motion, allowing for sub-millisecond decision making in environments where millions of decisions can be made every second.

The software continuously analyzes massive volumes of data at rates up to petabytes per day, IBM claimed.

Initially tested on financial markets data, the new features include built-in accelerators to help CSPs continuously ingest and analyze data in motion from their networks. As a result, they can better understand how customers are using services and what their preferences are, making it easier to provide personalized products and billing reduce to churn and retain customers.

The software also comes with built-in social media analytics to help marketers fine tune promotions in support of customer loyalty and retention initiatives.

Hadoop-based software for industry-specific analytics 

IBM also said its InfoSphere BigInsights analyzes traditional structured data found in databases along with unstructured data to enable faster decision making.

New features include built-in accelerators that analyze data flowing from digital infrastructures to help businesses in retail, manufacturing, oil and gas, energy and utilities, healthcare, and travel and transportation monitor operational efficiency, security incident investigation, proactive maintenance and troubleshooting and outage prevention.

BigInsights software now includes built-in social media analytics accelerators help marketers develop applications for customer acquisition and retention, perform customer segmentation and campaign optimization, and streamline lead generation. Employees can also select disparate data sources and instantly create new applications without the need for Hadoop skills.

Predictive analytics for SMBs in the Cloud

Until now, predictive analytics has been deployed primarily by larger enterprises that are able to invest up front in the necessary software, skills and infrastructure. Analytic Answers offers small and medium sized businesses predictive analytics as a service, providing them access to the latest analytics capabilities without having to bring these skills or build models in- house.

Clients enter their data and questions, related to enterprise challenges such as fraud, customer loyalty, or predictive maintenance, and receive quick answers. For example, a small insurance company can easily enter their data to determine who are their most likely customers are to renew a particular policy. The service analyzes the data and provides an answer enabling the company to quickly act by tailoring a new policy. 

The software used by the Analytics Answers service can analyze a variety of information from social to geospatial to machine data. To remove barriers to adoption, Analytic Answers is available to clients as a service via the IBM Smart Cloud, a subscription-based cloud environment.

In addition, IBM said larger enterprises will find the capability appealing when trying to quickly ramp up pilot projects on a budget that could benefit from predictive analytics. For example, increasing retail customer spend with highly targeted offers for a new product launch, increasing insurance policy renewal activity by identifying cross selling opportunities, or determining at-risk students in time to address educational challenges.

For finance departments

Regulatory, compliance, and performance reporting requirements are growing in complexity and urgency, requiring a combination of diverse data from the enterprise and narrative text for regulatory filings, investor presentations, debt management reports in treasury, and operation reviews.

Today most finance departments use a very labor-intensive, manual process to create required reporting. According to the Hackett Group, 82% of management reports are created using spreadsheets as the primary business application.

This process is time consuming, error prone, and every time a change needs to be made the process has to be repeated, opening up greater risk, IBM said.

New IBM Disclosure Management software addresses this complexity by capturing and analyzing diverse finance reporting data using a familiar spreadsheet environment. The solution addresses not only regulatory requirements, but also controllership, investor relations, treasury, and financial planning and analysis disclosure requirements.

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