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The 4V’s of Big Data

The 4V’s of Big Data

Nick Goodman

04/02/2014

By Nick Goodman, Lead Software Engineer, Platform Group 
Nick Goodman@NickGoodman42;

What are you going to do with your big data? 

Big data is everywhere, but what can you actually do with it?

You can slice it, you can analyze it, you can create a lifetime supply of work for a team of data scientists, and you can add cool graphs to your internal reports.  But does that really drive your organization’s value?

What you need is a means of leveraging big data: turning its insights into action.  Plug it into your gamification engine.  Let your big data drive employee performance, customer satisfaction, and your organization’s value.

Why Big Data and Gamification are Natural Fits

Gamification is powerful because it lets your organization turn employee, partner, and customer activity into meaningful incentives that then result in more valuable activity.  Gamification’s impact within your organization is limited, however, by the amount, type, rate, and usefulness of the data you give it.  To those in the big data world, “amount, type, rate, and usefulness” should sound a lot like volume, variety, velocity, and veracity: the 4 Vs of Big Data.

Volume Systems produce more data than ever before and at a pace unmatched in human history.  As Rajat Paharia puts it in his book Loyalty 3.0, “We are all walking data generators.”
Variety Data comes in many forms: purchase history, social graphs, tweets, blog posts, sleep tracking.
Velocity We generate data at a pace never matched in human history.  Twenty years ago, your commercial life revolved around monthly measurements.  Today, measurements occur as frequently as every second.
Veracity Data only has value as it applies to the real world.  When it represents truth about consumers, markets, and your business, big data is incredibly powerful.

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Gamifying Coffee Shops with Big Data

To get an idea of how big data and gamification fit together, let’s consider a real-world use: coffee.  Imagine that we run a large coffee chain.  We have thousands of store outlets and millions of customers.  How can we engage our employees and customers?  Most of our sales are anonymous, many loyal customers rarely shop at the same store twice, and a dissatisfied customer can find a competitor across the street (often literally).  We are going to use big data and gamification to motivate our employees, retain our customers, and build our brand.

First, let’s focus our fictional coffee chain’s gamification program on customer satisfaction: if the customer is satisfied and engaged, she will keep buying coffee.  Since our coffee chain’s central servers don’t have customer names or purchase habits, we will turn to social media to capture rapid market changes.  This is where the Volume and Velocity of big data work in our favor.  We can use Bunchball’s social media integration to track geo-located “negative” customer tweets.  The system will automatically respond to the first 1000 dissatisfied customers in a metro area by giving them a coupon for a free coffee.  Moreover, since the social media module is scraping specific menu items and locations from the posts, it is setup to automatically notify the group responsible for menu quality when it detects customer dissatisfaction with particular items.  And since the system uses fine-grained geo-locations, if there is an issue with any particular store, the system can let the store manager know directly.

Thus far, we’ve directly engaged our customers.  But what about the people who aren’t already buying from us?  Let’s tie our big data into our online-advertising via gamification.  Using Bunchball’s Gamification engine again, we setup fast-feedback triggers so that when high-profit menu items become suddenly popular with 18-25 year olds on social media in three urban areas, we automatically purchase targeted online advertising in those areas.

Let’s take a step back and look at our coffee shop’s customer-engagement program.  It relies on a variety of traditional data sources such as sales, product, and store information and social media data.  It focuses on motivating employees, engaging current customers, and bringing in new customers.  It’s done all of this without having to build a complicated data science and analysis system.  This is the power of Gamification: it enables us to leverage big data without the massive investments in big data technology and experts.  Gamification is a lever that allows us to be a more effective business.

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