Have you ever heard that Wal-Mart displayed beer next to diapers in the store and sales increased? How did this happen? Wal-Mart used their data mining system to analyze all the customer transactions. It turned out that beer was most often sold with diapers. The store tried to figure out the correlation between these two products. They found out that many wives asked their husbands to buy diapers, because a pack of diapers is too heavy for women to carry. On Friday afternoon, their husbands, who just left work, would like to buy beer at the grocery store to drink on the weekend. Accordingly, they bought the diapers and beer at the same time. Such a coincidence! If the store didn’t have the data mining system, would they notice this coincidence? Maybe, but it would have cost them more on time and labor consumptions.
Although some people may judge this story as more like an urban legend, it is a good example to promote the concept of big data. Here, you probably start wondering: Besides Wal-Mart, how have other companies used a big data system to improve their businesses? T-Mobile has integrated their multiple data systems to collect and analyze their customer transactions. By leveraging social media, CRM and billing data, they cut their customers’ dissatisfaction in half within three months. Hertz has applied an advance data analytic system to better predict their customer defections. The company was able to identify where, when and how problems occurred immediately, and then made adjustments to the business. Today, many companies use a big data system to improve their businesses. So does Virginia government! (For more big data case studies, please see 6 Case Studies Prove ROI of Big Data)
In 2010, the Virginia government launched the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS). VLDS was developed by five organizations: Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), Virginia Community College System (VCCG) and Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). VLDS has collected Virginia education and workforce data from the government and other reliable agents. VLDS has been designed to make improvements in the state’s education, workforce systems, and other state services. For example, researchers receive data from VLDS and apply those data to improve their studies. Legislators use data from VLDS to establish laws and make decisions about laws.
In an initial stage, only researchers, legislators and some permitted partners are allowed to access VLDS. However, the system might be available for the public in the future.
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