Simple Data, Big Business: Influence Through Data Analytics

Big data isn’t just about how much information a company can gather, but how it uses that information in a customer-oriented way to boost company success.

Even the largest firms can utilise location-based data. While McDonalds prides itself on the way a Big Mac is the same the world over, production is much affected by individual store factors. A recent article in Datafloq details how McDonalds analyses everything from the food ordered to the size of vehicles that pass through its drive-through facilities. This data reveals that regardless of the total amount of food sold, usage patterns can cause real problems: if a large group in a minibus places an order, there will be subsequent delays for customers in vehicles behind. Such data could easily be cross-referenced through location analytics to determine likely times when the drive-through needs extra staff to deal with such bottlenecks. For instance, after a football game if the restaurant is situated between a local stadium and the nearest motorway.

Another major player that uses location analytics is Starbucks. While its brand influence means that it sometimes feels like the chain simply opens a store in every retail unit going, that’s not the case. In fact, the sheer scale of its operation makes the corporation’s use of location analytics all the more important. Forbes notes that when deciding on a plan for its next 1,500 locations, Starbucks didn’t just have to look at the map data to see which sites would be most profitable. It also had to factor in the potential drop in sales at its own existing outlets in the areas.

It’s not just planning where location analytics has a role to play. Rather than just static data - like census information and customer databases - location analytics can incorporate “live” data from both transactions and social media for greater efficiency. The US restaurant chain Applebees uses a location analytics service in this way to track negative comments on social media and quickly identify patterns that could indicate a problem that needs fixing fast. That could mean ensuring staff at a particular restaurant attend to a bathroom hygiene issue even when no customers have felt comfortable making a complaint in person.