Insights into customer purchasing behavior using Big Data analytics

The following post is an excerpt from the Microsoft IT Annual Report 2013
Nowhere is there a better opportunity for a company to learn about the interests of its customers than through its website. However, gaining insights from how customers use your website (the “clickstream”) requires heavy lifting on the back end. As CIO, how do you transform your corporate website into a powerful sales and marketing tool that helps the business gain a competitive edge?
The Microsoft.com site is one of the busiest in the world, attracting more than 228 million unique visitors each day. The challenge for Microsoft IT has been to design an infrastructure that can capture the massive amounts of input, and then to measure and analyze it in a way that provides insight into customers’ interests for the sales and marketing teams.
Microsoft IT has developed an end-to-end measurement and tracking system for microsoft.com, which reflects its adoption of business process management as a core philosophy and an organizational concept within the organization. This system enables Microsoft IT to determine the capabilities to consolidate―and to determine which are critical for driving business outcomes.
Some of the ways in which the new system helps drive competitive edge for the company’s commercial and consumer segments include:
Commercial
By centralizing the management of all its commercial account data into a centralized data management environment, Microsoft IT can perform wholesale predictive analytics against that data. As a result, the targeting for all product launches is driven by predictive analytics using a whole set of early adopter models, enabling the business to predict which customers are most likely to adopt a first release of a product. Furthermore, all commercial marketing campaigns have a tracking capability, which enables the business to determine actual cost on a per-opportunity basis.
Consumer
Microsoft IT has made a considerable investment in Big Data analytics. Microsoft IT’s anonymous data store currently holds information from more than a billion cookies, whose data is used to create different segments of consumer preferences based on unique combinations of behaviors and external data. The segments provide profiles against particular behaviors. These segments are being tested by the microsoft.com sales and marketing team to improve the efficacy of their campaigns.
Remember that a business can't talk about monetizing its clickstreams with any accuracy until it can measure them. Microsoft IT’s measurement and tracking system is based on a standardized measurement approach that utilizes Big Data and generates critical information such as average order value and revenue per customer. These are precisely the kind of details that help the business maintain its competitive edge in the marketplace
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