Big Data - The value of a transaction
At a recent presentation in Germany by our partner DLoG one of the presenters used a phrase which really got my attention and made me think. In discussing the more prolific use of touch-screen terminals in the retail and hospitality sectors the presenter said that soon "the value of the information about the transaction will be worth more than the transaction itself".
Its a great line and one that certainly sounds good to a room full of experienced system integrators and resellers. What he means of course is that even the smallest purchase, using a "traceable" transaction, not cash, can generate information about where you are or what you are doing, that can be worth money to a retailer or advertiser, its all part of the Big Data revolution that we are all part of.
It took me a little while to realise that as a concept, despite sounding fresh, this has actually been true in our business for a great many years.
Looking at our work in logistics and warehousing over the past 15 or 20 years, the technology and solutions we develop with our customers has been delivering that incredibly valued information right from day one, but sometimes its "real value" is overlooked.
Whenever we introduce automated data capture into an operation the Return on Investment is seen in the improvement and streamlining of the existing operations, picking, packing, put away etc. But what becomes evident fairly rapidly after deployment is that the information the business gains insight on, the actually transactions themselves, can show hitherto unseen patterns and provide a level of detail that can affect the whole business.
Why does a certain pick location always need manual input instead of scanning? What makes Tuesdays the most efficient pick day of the week? Why does more stock leave on bay 5 than any other? Or more importantly it can lead to an improved stock profile and in some cases a drastically reduced total inventory value, improving cash flow.
All of a sudden a whole new spectrum of information becomes available to the warehousing and logistics team and allows them to further identify issues and improve efficiencies.
So the retail sector is now catching up somewhat with the logistics industry and beginning to see the inherent value in the information you can gathered in an automated process and how this can benefit the business. The only difference being the information is coming from customers not employees and the benefits come from more accurately targeted sales opportunities and customer buying patterns.