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Analytics is taking center court in both tennis and business

Analytics SaaS Solutions Leader, IBM

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For over 25 years, IBM has sponsored The Wimbledon Championships, giving us the chance to engage with one of the world’s biggest sporting events while showcasing IBM technology and capabilities. But how can this relate to your business? This technology is not only designed for big companies’ large teams and ample resources.

So what did we see this year at Wimbledon and how could it apply to you? One of my favorites continues to be the IBM SlamTracker and the “Keys to the Match” feature. Built on IBM SPSS predictive analytics technology, it mines over eight years of Grand Slam tennis data (over 41 million data points) to determine patterns and styles for players when they win. Prior to each match, the IBM Keys to the Match system runs an analysis of both competitors’ historical head-to-head matchups, as well as statistics against comparable player styles, to determine what the data indicates each player must do to succeed in the match.

The same principles could easily be applied to your business. Wouldn't it be great to see three ways to reduce customer churn, decide how to sell product A with product X or even learn the keys to retaining your best talent? IBM can do this for any size organization by taking historic data, revealing the patterns within it and providing you with data insights.

For example, IBM worked with Medway Youth Trust, a small charity that helps improve life opportunities for young people. One of the key areas that the Trust seeks to address is the fact that 6.2 percent of young people between the ages of 16 and 19 in the Medway area are not involved with education, employment or training—a status known as “NEET.” The Trust created a model that used the data in its IBM Connections database to predict whether a given young person was at risk of becoming NEET and then build a strategy to intervene. Not only does this make a real difference in the lives of young people, but the model delivered a 250 percent improvement in accuracy of identification compared to manual search techniques.

Another example is The Red10, a five-person marketing services company that offers insight into contact information for businesses. It has put together a solution that draws from more than 1,000 data sources, with over 150 million data points. With analytics included, it provides customers with insight into who to market to—and with IBM technology, it has reduced the time to run a query from one day to 4 seconds. This model was built using IBM cloud solutions with a pay-as-you-go model, avoiding the need for significant upfront investment. The Red10 say this has allowed it to accelerate its business model to market by two years.

One final example is Honest Café, which is building its first locations. Coupled with the fact that these locations are unmanned, customer insight was tough to come by. But Honest Café had the data, much of it captured from its vending machines, such as when items were purchased, what combinations, timing and so on. What the company lacked was the manpower to crunch and interpret it. Mark Summerill, head of product development at Honest Café, used IBM Watson Analytics to understand which customers sit and have a drink with friends, and which ones dash in to grab a quick coffee while on the move. The transactional data is analyzed to see how people pay for their food and drinks at certain times of the day so Honest Café can automatically offer relevant promotions and products to individual customers. Plus, Mark can do all the analytics himself; the process does not need expensive infrastructure because the solution is all in the cloud.

So there you are—three examples of how small companies are taking advantage of data and analytics to drive insight into their businesses and provide better service to their customers. How will you incorporate data into your business and build a winning strategy?

What’s next? Download a free trial of Watson now and connect with me on Twitter at @Rob_Analytical with any questions you have.