Monday, 27 March 2017

Big Data: Answering the questions that don’t yet exist

By Phil Le Blond 

Data is growing fast, real fast! It’s predicted that humanity’s accumulated digital universe will be 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020. That’s a lot of data to crunch considering today only 0.5% of data is ever analysed. Somewhere in that data we will find the cure for all disease, the ability to conserve our planet, to generate unlimited free energy, prevent war, and produce enough food for every person on the planet. Technology will have to help us, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will guide us to the answers we seek, or perhaps decide to kill us all.

For now, I think I need to start smaller. I have been researching “big data” for a long time now, trying to understand what it all means to Westcoast and what it could mean for our partners. What is big data, how could we use it, do we even have any? We ship hundreds of thousands of products each year, have thousands of customers, who in turn have thousands of customers themselves. We must have big data, right?  Well maybe not in the truest sense of the meaning, but we have lots of data, and we certainly have “big questions”.

The questions we have could historically be answered with spreadsheets, intuition, a bit of luck, and a sprinkle of entrepreneurial spirit. But we have reached the limit, as we automate more and more of our processes we are capturing data faster than ever before. Data that isn’t just valuable to us, but to our Vendors and Reseller partners. How can we gain insights from that data and how can we share those insights with partners? How can we share our success? These are the just some of the many questions that we will be working to answer, using the technologies that we sell.

We’ve already started the journey, and we look forward to sharing what we have learned along the way. Big data may sound dull at first, but scratch the surface and you begin to understand the transformational power of data. It will push all of us at Westcoast into new ways of thinking, new capabilities, and new ways of doing business. Right now we’re working on a project that seeks to find needs in our industry that no one knows exists yet, and finding ways to solve them, to accelerate change. We will improve collaboration and engagement for better business and provide all of our customers with an amazing experience. We are excited, re-energised and we are up for it. So, stay tuned for more details…

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