I ran into a couple of examples this past week on the awesome potential of big data and social media – to do both harm and good.

If you hadn’t heard, an accidental communication about a massive earthquake in California was picked up by an automated story generator at the LA Times which quickly created a false story about it. Think about the mass panic that could have ensued had that story not been corrected quickly (and likely the moments of panic that did in some).

On a lighter note, the Charlotte Symphony came into my town for an outdoor concert Saturday night – a pretty big deal they only do once a year. I went to two fried chicken restaurants to pick up a picnic dinner for my family and found both were out of chicken! The restaurant managers explained to me that they were hit with huge demand and didn’t understand why. Neither took the effort to find and interpret the symphony coming into town as an opportunity.

So what do earthquakes and chicken have in common?

Both events were fully available on the internet, in that thing we call “big data.” The LA Times listens for alerts from the U.S. Geological Survey and turns them around automatically. And there are several services that will gather and report on local events (festivals, concerts, sporting events, etc.) for those who want to know.

More importantly, though, it was the interpretation of that data, the call to action, or lack thereof, that was faulty in both cases. What’s the trade-off between getting news to the public vs. double checking the source?  How many sales are lost, or food wasted, by not seeing and interpreting correctly local events, the weather, competitor activity and other critical demand signals?

As you look to use big data in your company, look to partner with companies who can do more than just collect the data. Visibility alone can be great, but visibility driving appropriate action will win for you and your company.

By the way, I went to my local grocer and found several buckets of fried chicken hot and ready to go. That store manager was paying attention and drove at least one extra sale that evening.

The concert and the chicken were great! And there were no earthquakes.

How JDA Can Help

Leverage real-time visibility into local events, social media trends, weather and traffic conditions influencing consumer purchase behaviors directly within JDA solutions. Using JDA you can increase forecast accuracy based on demand sensing signals. Contact JDA to learn more today.