Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

See a Big Data Appliance in the wild

It is a news day today, check out the pictures of the BDA getting wheeled into Enkitec...

Kerry's Blog Post

Always fun to see  happy faces when the new to arrives. Looking forward to more Enkitec news in the coming weeks (starting at Openworld of course).

Big data: An evening in the life of an actual buyer

Here I am, and this is an actual story of one of my evenings, trying to spend money with a company and ultimately failing. I just gave up and bought a service from another vendor, not the incumbent. Here is that story and how I think big data could actually fix this (and potentially prevent some of this from happening). In the end this story should illustrate how big data can benefit me (get me what I want without causing grief) and the company I am trying to buy something from.

Note: Lots of details left out, I have no intention of being the annoyed blogger moaning about a specific company.

What did I want to get?

We watch TV, we have internet and we do have a land line. The land line is from a different vendor then the TV and the internet. I have decided that this makes no sense and I was going to get a bundle (no need to infer who this is, I just picked the generic bundle word as this is what I want to get) of all three services as this seems to save me money. I also want to not talk to people, I just want to click on a website when I feel like it and get it all sorted. I do think that is reality. I want to just do my shopping at 9.30pm while watching silly reruns on TV.

Problem 1 - Bad links

So, I'm an existing customer of the company I want to buy my bundle from. I go to the website, I click on offers. Turns out they are offers for new customers. After grumbling about how good they are, I click on offers for existing customers. Bummer, it goes to offers for new customers, so I click again on the link for offers for existing customers. No cigar... it just does not work.

Big data solutions:

1) Do not show an existing customer the offers for new customers unless they are the same => This is only partially doable without login, but if a customer logs in the application should always know that this is an existing customer. But in general, imagine I do this from my home going through the internet service of this vendor to their domain... an instant filter should move me into the "existing customer route".

2) Flag dead or incorrect links => I've clicked the link for "existing customer offers" at least 3 times in under 5 seconds... Identifying patterns like this is easy in Hadoop and can very quickly make a list of potentially incorrect links. No need for realtime fixing, just the fact that this link can be pro-actively fixed across my entire web domain is a good thing. Preventative maintenance!

Problem 2 - Purchase cannot be completed

Apart from the fact that the browsing pattern to actually get to what I want is poorly designed, my purchase never gets past a specific point. In other words, I put something into my shopping cart and when I want to move on the application either crashes (with me going to an error page) or hangs or goes into something like chat. So I try again, and again and again. I think I tried this entire path (while being logged in!!) at least 10 times over the course of 20 minutes. I also clicked on the feedback button and, frustrated as I was, tried to explain this did not work...

Big Data Solutions:

1) This web site does shopping cart analysis. I got an email next day stating I have things in my shopping cart, just click here to complete my purchase. After the above experience, this just added insult to my pain...

2) What should have happened, is a Hadoop job going over all logged in customers that are on the buy flow. It should flag anyone who is trying (multiple attempts from the same user to do the same thing), analyze the shopping card, the clicks to identify what the customers wants, his feedback provided (note: always own your own website feedback, never just farm this out!!) and in a short turn around time (30 minutes to 2 hours or so) email me with a link to complete my purchase. Not with a link to my shopping cart 12 hours later, but a link to actually achieve what I wanted...

Why should this company go through the big data effort?

I do believe this is relatively easy to do using our Oracle Event Processing and Big Data Appliance solutions combined. It is almost so simple (to my mind) that it makes no sense that this is not in place? But, now I am ranting... Why is this interesting? It is because of $$$$.

After trying really hard, I mean I did this all in the evening, and again in the morning before going to work. I kept on failing, But I really wanted this to work... so an email that said, sorry, we noticed you tried to get a bundle (the log knows what I wanted, where I failed, so easy to generate), here is the link to click and complete your purchase. And here is 2 movies on us as an apology would have kept me as a customer, and got the additional $$$$ per month for the next couple of years. It would also lead to upsell on my phone package etc.

Instead, I went to a completely different company, bought service from them. Lost money for company A, negative sentiment for company A and me telling this story at the water cooler so I'm influencing more people to think negatively about company A. All in all, a loss of easy money, a ding in sentiment and image where a relatively simple solution exists and can be in place on the software I describe routinely in this blog...

For those who are coming to Openworld and maybe see value in solving the above, or are thinking of how to solve this, come visit us in Moscone North - Oracle Red Lounge or in the Engineered Systems Showcase.


The data warehouse insider is written by the Oracle product management team and sheds lights on all thing data warehousing and big data.


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