(Note: Data that is already and forever available to organizations is not externally sourced data, but instead the machine data, or logs, that organizations' IT systems spew out.)
In the same survey, 38 percent of respondents reported having no available budget for big data, and 35 percent stated that they had difficulty in collecting data. Although nothing is conclusive, those figures may reflect a misunderstanding of the nature of the big data in machine logs or the available analytics tools for deriving insights from those logs.
Understand logs to understand customers
Here's an example of what you can discover in machine logs. By using tools to monitor and manage logs on a very granular level, retailers can get amazing insights into customer behavior – i.e., the behavior of their customers, in contrast to anonymous consumers, whose aggregated behavior is identified by third-party research, and not by your customer data. Retailers can quickly spot:
- What products customers are buying, in what amounts, and in what varieties
- When peak buying times occur
- How pricing influences customer buying
- Correlations between social media campaigns and purchasing behavior
- How to increase sales and profitability by changing prices in real-time for products (or at specific times) when cost sensitivity is at its lowest or when sales of a product are lagging
While gleaning this information, log management and analytics can also provide a feedback loop into your data warehouse or business center to pinpoint the capacity or changes in inventory required to ensure customer responsiveness and reduce lost sales.
But machine logs play another key role: helping IT planners understand how effectively their network infrastructure is supporting their business goals. For example, virtualization logs are used to gain operational insights into the performance, capacity, and security of virtual machines, and those logs contribute directly to maximizing overall IT performance.
Take the case of Atchik, a European provider of mobile community and entertainment services to mobile operators. While Atchik uses log management to monitor all the company's device and cloud application logs, its ultimate goal is to quickly identify and resolve customer issues. And so, the same logs serve both to improve operational performance and to understand – and retain – customers.
More concretely, because your machine logs can tell you what a customer ordered, you now have a deeper understanding of the customer. But those logs can also track what happened between the transaction point and the warehouse and can identify, for example, a shipping failure.