Creative Data Use Spurs Change in Competitive Strategies

Published on December 12, 2019

Bauer Research Analyzes Big Data and How Orgs Utilize Opportunities

Business leaders are constantly being told to employ big data or be left behind, but they may understandably lack knowledge of how best to use collected data for transformative impacts.

A new study by a C. T. Bauer College of Business researcher illuminates how change spurred by creative data use is unfolding in organizations ranging from banks, to manufacturers, to airlines. The work sheds light on competitive strategies available for big and small businesses.

Betsy Gelb is the Marvin Hurley Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at Bauer College.

“Because big data extends into so many facets of organizational life, it is easy for an organization with some utilization to overlook other utilization opportunities,” the authors write in a paper published by the Rutgers Business Review recently. “Such an organization may find big data analytics effective in marketing, and/or in supply chain management and/or customer relationship management. Yet because the data come from and are utilized by different areas within an organization, opportunities may be overlooked in other areas of operations.”

Betsy Gelb, the Marvin Hurley Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at Bauer, coauthored the paper with Deva Rangarajan of Ball State University. Heli Hallikainen, and Tommi Laukkanen of the University of Eastern Finland also contributed to the study, “How Big Data Can Transform Outcomes and Opportunities.”

The researchers first surveyed 551 CEOs to see how big data was being deployed in 10 categories, ranging from procurement and product development, to merchandising and human resource management. Then, they explored actual applications in 18 companies in the U.S., Europe and Africa.

The researchers found that creative data use often emerges and evolves over time.

“One firm now selling data on oil well flow to well owners, (is) considering giving it away instead and selling analytics that flag danger signs, using 18 years of archival data,” they write.

Other business transformations have occurred rapidly due to two things: A steep drop in the cost of data sensors and technology advances that have sped up processing time.

 “We now can capture infinite amounts of data at almost no cost,” said a global manufacturing manager quoted in the paper.

The authors’ detailed examples of how big data is changing the ways firms operate may spark ideas for organizational leaders who may not have fully embraced or recognized opportunities.

“Business as usual will – and should – shift to more creative data usage,” they write.

By Julie Bonnin