Can Big Data be used to help your customers?


  By Anthony Saxby,  Microsoft Data Platform lead in the UK.


Many commentators on big data have highlighted potential concerns around the data privacy aspects, however as we work with customers at Microsoft we’re seeing many examples of how large organisations are using big data and analytics projects to provide truly innovative new value to their customers.

Customer Services and customer experience teams are well placed to have a clear vision on how data that organisations already have and additional data they can gather can be used to provide valuable insight that would otherwise not be available.  Microsoft was at the recent Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in London and we were delighted to have Royal Bank of Scotland and Transport for London presenting on our behalf.  Whilst both organisations operate in very different areas of industry, the common theme in their presentations was how data that the organisations already capture could be used in new ways to provide customers of both organisations with improved service and high value insights. 

The Royal Bank of Scotland is exploring how to use the huge volume of commercial transaction data that they already capture to understand supply chain risks both from an economic and geo-political perspective. This insight can be used to help manufacturing customers understand the impact on their supply chain of events around the world that may not be immediately apparent.  In addition, based on an understanding of the currencies involved in typical supply chain transactions, the bank can also advise customers on approaches to optimise their foreign currency transactions. These insights will enable customers to make timely and optimal decisions on sourcing and purchasing enabling them to mitigate supply and currency risks. Delivering a scalable platform that was easy to manage, scale and required no tuning was core to making this real. The Royal Bank of Scotland selected SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse as their analytics platform for these scenarios after a detailed Proof of Concept, highlighted its significant cost/performance advantages over other data warehouse platforms and its easy migration path from existing databases.

Transport for London is using travel data from both Oyster cards as well as other sources to understand travel patterns across London.  From these insights, TFL can see trends developing in the typical journeys undertaken by millions of London commuters each week and use this data to help determine time-tables and for longer range planning and capacity decisions helping to ensure that travel in London is delivered smoothly and effectively.  In addition to planning, TFL can use journey time information to help the operating divisions to understand the real impact of service interruptions of travellers.  These insights are helping them target network servicing and maintenance activities on the aspects of the network that have the biggest impact if things go wrong offering opportunities to significantly improve overall travel experience and use maintenance budget more effectively.

On May 1st Microsoft is running an event that will explore the opportunities for organisations wishing to accelerate their use of data insights.  At this event you will hear from Corp Vice President of the Data Platform Quentin Clark and customers from health, manufacturing and other industries discussing their experiences of using Business Intelligence and analytics within their organisations. The event will be in-person as well as online,  please register using the following links.

 1st May, Reading: Executive agenda (AM). Register here  1st May, Reading: Technical Agenda (PM). Register here  1st May, Online:
Online broadcast.
Register here
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