You can also use big data on the back-end to make sure your offerings are what you say they are. T-Mobile, for example, continuously analyzes 2 PB of network performance data on its IBM Netezza data warehouse, loading nearly 20 billion rows and processing nearly 150,000 ELT jobs daily. In a five-minute span, says Christine Twiford, who works in T-Mobile's network engineering department, as many as 60 users may be executing load and query operations on the system in near-real time.
The main focus of network engineering is optimal network performance in the name of customer experience, she says. "We use clickstream data to calculate the speed of downloaded songs. This gives us a great proxy for understanding throughput speeds at the tower level, as well as handset speeds."
With this data at the ready, T-Mobile has been able to predict--and prevent--network outages that could have been caused by faulty Android applications, Twiford says. (After all, a smartphone user without network access might make a customer service call similar to the one described at the beginning of this article.)
Twiford and her team also use handset data to determine whether they may need to open the floodgates if, for example, they anticipate a large volume of video suddenly hitting a given geographic area--Boston on the Fourth of July, Times Square on New Years' Eve and so on. This is exactly the opposite of what happened at some Olympic venues, where usage overwhelmed the networks set up to serve both event organizers and fans.
These streams can be used to get in front of an emerging trend--or a presidential candidate.
Say a coffee chain using Wisdom to better understand its customers discovered they have an "affinity" (to use MicroStrategy's parlance) for a new type of chocolate hitting the market. If the company wanted to make a quick decision based on this preliminary but compelling insight, it could stock that chocolate in the stores where Facebook "likes" are highest, notes Warren Getler, MicroStrategy's vice president of Corporate Communications.
Journalists on the campaign trail have used Wisdom to track down Mitt Romney supporters at their favorite restaurants. How? If they "like" Mitt and they "like" Joe's Diner, reporters know they can stake out Joe's and get some interviews.
Big Data Will Make Big Strides