From the June 2014 issue of Entrepreneur

Data and Analytics

Faster, smarter, better information technology

What's the point of a best-practices SEO program, finely tuned e-mail marketing strategy and active social media presence if your customers can't find what they want when they get to your site? That's the question BloomReach CEO Raj De Datta asks his 150 or so clients, who range from luxury department store Neiman Marcus to hip e-tailer ModCloth.

"Right now it's like walking into Target," De Datta says of most ecommerce sites. "I'm looking for toys. Someone else is looking for a fleece jacket. But we both see the same store, even though we're here for a very different reason."

From a typical ecommerce homepage, consumers can either use the search function or make their way through several levels of menus, hoping to find a specific product. But with BloomReach's SNAP software, buyers arrive at the store and see only the products they want, since the software has anonymously figured out their intents and preferences based on prior visits to the site, language they use, links clicked on the site, commonalities of the content they consume on the site, current location and what network they're on--no login or password required.

In effect, BloomReach's enterprise-level software--which costs retailers $7,500 per month or more, depending on the number of unique visitors--is tackling the last mile of ecommerce marketing. "I realized that no one was looking at the website itself," De Datta says. "Everyone was taking a one-size-fits-all approach."

With SNAP, the goal was to use big data to help consumers individually, based on their current intent, not their demographic data or buying history. "We have the ability to recognize visitors with 99 percent accuracy," De Datta says of his company's "machine learning," which works even if the consumer previously visited a site on a mobile device and is now using a web browser. If BloomReach has its way, it'll vastly shrink the number of steps between landing on an ecommerce site's homepage and clicking the "add to cart" button.

For e-tailers, the appeal of SNAP, beyond its ability to better serve up the precise products people want, is that they don't have to rebuild their websites from scratch to use it. The cloud-based service automatically indexes every page--and every new page added--on a client's site and automatically generates for visitors the appropriate content on these pages. For stores that add and remove hundreds of products per week from their sites, this feature means they can post it and forget it. Another plus: Unlike A/B testing, which can take weeks to work through, BloomReach's aggregate machine learning, drawn from constantly updated data from all its clients and more than 30 public data sources, reduces the lag time between application and positive results. For ModCloth, the core technology behind SNAP translated into a 40 percent increase in visits to individual product pages--a sign that people were finding what they were looking for.

According to De Datta, the technology behind BloomReach is complicated but serves a very simple function: It's the answer to the customer who's browsing a site for that perfect green summer dress and knows nothing about what she wants other than, "I'll know it when I see it."

More Travel and Transportation Brilliance


Launched by NASA veterans, Planet Labs operates the world's largest fleet of Earth-imaging satellites, which capture data for use in humanitarian and commercial applications such as disaster response, monitoring deforestation and improving agricultural yields.


Nike's free Making app is a database and comparison tool that documents the environmental impact of materials used in manufacturing apparel and home goods.


FarmLogs puts the power of big data in the hands of farmers with desktop and mobile apps that analyze field performance, track rainfall, manage inventory, forecast expenses and find the best local prices for crops.


HedgeChatter aggregates social media buzz about financial markets, creating data, graphs and stock-price predictions based on online chatter.


Platfora: "Big data analytics for the fact-based enterprise," this self-service platform helps companies streamline and directly analyze data to understand all the facts in their business across events, actions, behaviors and time.


The Mevoked analytics platform tracks the online, mobile and social activity of children and young adults, giving parents and clinicians insights into potential mental health issues.


Bottlenose, a real-time trend-intelligence service, has teamed up with Critical Mention's broadcast TV and radio tracking technology to create a 360 view of live media--social, search, TV and radio--to uncover synergies and find out what's driving fads.


WhatsBusy crunches big data to predict wait times and "crowdiness" at places like airports (they're working on museums and restaurants), helping consumers save time and businesses optimize operations.


Actifio addresses storage issues with a streamlined system that decouples application data from IT infrastructure. It eliminates extra copies of data, creating a single version that can be reused, helping businesses cut storage costs and reduce recovery times.


100 Brilliant Companies

Modern Food and Drink
Fashion
Music
Social Media
Marketing
Health and Fitness
Marijuana
Travel and Transportation
Data and Analytics
Hiring