Big Data is getting bigger, with many organizations looking to analyze the fire hose of information that their operation is generating. Last week, customer
interaction management vendor NICE Systems announced that it was integrating IBM's Big Data analytics
into its customer service applications, to help companies improve customer experience and business intelligence
NICE said the integration of IBM's InfoSphere BigInsights software will help its clients to utilize data that is being gathered from customer interactions across a variety of communication channels, including voice, e-mail, chat and Web.
Hundreds of terabytes of raw data are acquired by many companies, NICE said, and determining patterns in the data could lead to insights about customer preferences, usage trends and patterns, location data, potential threats and other business intelligence. But much of the data is unstructured -- such as recorded conversations, social media interactions, transactions or surveillance video -- and companies have often resisted the cost and labor required to process the information.
Big Data's 'Opportunity'
NICE's solutions are designed to enhance customer interactions, using real-time, cross-channel analytics to improve the customer experience, streamline organizational efficiency and improve compliance. This, the company said, improves business performance, decreases financial risk, and enhances safety and security.
NICE's software is designed to capture interactions, transactions and video surveillance from such sources as phones, CCTV video feeds, emergency-services radio communications, e-mails, chat, social media and other channels, in order to realize "the intent of customers, criminals and terrorists, or fraudsters."
Yochai Rozenblat, president of NICE's Enterprise Group, said in a statement that "Big Data is often seen as a challenge, instead of an opportunity." He added that the enormous amount of information being generated, especially because of the growth of cloud, social and mobile technologies, can be used to "better understand the customer, their operations," and to identify market trends.
IBM's analytical software utilizes Hadoop software, which stores the data in a distributed file system and allows the use of lower-cost servers. In a Hadoop cluster, data is broken down into small pieces and distributed for processing, providing scalability so that huge loads can be handled. IBM said on its Web site that the goal of Hadoop is to "use commonly available servers in a very large cluster, where each server has a set of inexpensive internal disk drives."
Matt Storm, NICE's director of Innovations and Solutions, told us the integration with IBM's Big Data software allows NICE's customers to access IBM's industrial-strength analysis, or to integrate with existing installations of IBM's tools.
"If you look at just a single interaction inside customer service," Storm said, there could easily be "50 to 150 data points relating to that interaction," including the product, the ZIP Code and other details. The IBM integration is not accessing new data, he said, but is providing affordable "scalability, speed and reliablity" or allowing NICE's customers to utilize IBM tools they already have.