4 surprising ways companies apply analytics to drive success

North American Director, Information and Analytics Solution, Mainline

This post was coauthored by Nicole Bradley, IBM Watson Solutions Executive.
Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

You’ve probably seen “big data and analytics” splashed across all of the news sources, blogs and social media sites you read. And it’s likely because big data and analytics continue to drive big value for companies of every size and in every industry. It’s a core driver behind a lot of the organizations you probably interact with daily…and in some ways you might not expect. Here are four companies that are using analytics in surprising, yet highly successful, ways. create your NFL season schedule

Did you know the fate of your Thanksgiving Day football game depended on analytics? While the team matchups are determined by standing, many other factors are decided by the playing schedule team headed by Michael North. He and his team decide who needs to play when and where to create the best possible season for their viewers. When they first started working with IBM 10 years ago, it would take his team long hours, 7 days a week for 10 weeks to put together one optimized schedule. Now they can evaluate the quality of a half a million schedules based on known, measurable data points such as TV ratings. The next step? Incorporating lesser-known data points such as Twitter commentary, online viewership and website visits.

To help you use gamification…for everything

Gamification has become a buzzword in the past few years. Recently, a group of innovators has been finding ways to integrate it with another tech buzzword—big data. Gamification is, essentially, where you take typical elements of game playing (such as point scoring and rules of play) and apply them to products, services and experiences to make them more enjoyable and motivating. For example, companies have begun avidly tracking their customers’ buying behaviors and using gamification principles to turn data insights into action. It answers the question, "Based on my customer’s behavior, how do I get them to make a purchase?" In addition to customer management, successful applications of this practice are taking place in the healthcare industry to motivate patients to keep track of their symptoms, or in corporate training to increase employee retention and attention during sessions.

To curate and create your favorite shows

Netflix is a behemoth of analytics—and was an early adopter as well. In 2006, it awarded a $1,000,000 “Netflix prize” to the group that could create an algorithm predicting how Netflix customers would react to new movies, based on their ratings of previously viewed films. Today, the company has specialized teams for “personalization analytics, messaging analytics, content delivery analytics, device analytics…the list goes on.” Netflix then began using the viewing data from its 50 million subscribers to produce new shows, using analytics to predict success before production. And it's working. House of Cards, one of its first original series, has multiple award nominations and high critical praise, attracting a whole new audience to the site.

To give a bank a big advantage

First Tennessee Bank, a mid-level bank with about 180 locations throughout the state, saw a significant impact on its bottom line when it began integrating predictive analytics into its marketing campaigns. Facing a highly competitive marketplace, more information to manage and increased regulation, Tanner Mueller, CRM marketing manager, said the bank's goal was to solve this dilemma: “I’ve got 100 pieces of data—now how do I turn that into two actionable items?” They worked with IBM, using predictive analytics, to improve customer targeting and messaging and to progress from a product-oriented strategy to one that placed the client's needs at the core of its approach. First Tennessee saw a 600 percent increase on cross-sale campaigns, decreased mail cost and better response rates.

The possibilities analytics present mean companies are operating differently than they were just five years ago. Transformative technologies are changing how we analyze, collaborate and engage. To learn more about how industry leaders and your peers are capitalizing on this transformation, join us at the IBM New Way to Work tour that’s visiting seven cities this fall—it’s free.