Find out how your sector stands to benefit from Big Data

Updated on 8 March 2016

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Find out how your sector stands to benefit from Big Data

Many South African companies are sitting on huge amounts of information, and are losing out on the competitive edge it could give them. This is according to Yudhvir Seetharam, head of analytics for FNB Business.

Big Data allows businesses to extract value (insights) from information from various data sources from the public (social and other online sources) and private or commercial sources i.e.: internal company databases. This information can “produce actionable insights” including targeting new revenue sources or a previously unexplored customer base, and streamlining operations.

This is especially true for key sectors who, because of global business challenges and developments are sensitive to economic cycles, says Seetharam, such as agriculture, retail, healthcare, financial services and franchising.

Here are how these 5 sectors can stand to profit big from Big Data.


The agricultural industry can utilise data predominantly to increase operational efficiency. Faced with drought conditions, South Africa more than ever requires the agricultural sector to optimise what it has, with the assistance of Big Data.

“Apart from supply side efficiency, farmers can use big data to forecast demand for their crops, yield on their crops, as well as potential land size and usage of the land. This data will significantly help individual farmers when aggregated across geographical regions,” adds Seetharam.

Financial Services 

Financial institutions have a mountain of data accessible to them via their customers. This can intelligently lead to better sales and service strategies, within the constraints of responsible usage.

Banks, insurance providers and asset managers can utilise analytics to increase their revenue, decrease costs and increase customer satisfaction and retention.


The healthcare sector is looking for ways of increasing accessibility and affordability while maintaining costs. Once again, Big Data can be used to determine the best geographic location to place these hospitals, along with insight into trends and potential solutions in medical research.

The prediction of epidemics, assistance in finding a cure for diseases and an overall increase in the quality of living can be extracted with the use of Big Data.

Seetharam says not only do we have apps and devices that monitor our health, but there are now apps that even assist in self-diagnosis of medical conditions – within reason. This data is pollinated across industries, such as insurance companies, which build health and fitness reward programmes for the clients, and monitor this data through these apps and devices.

Read Also: The Growing Importance of Big Data for Entrepreneurs


From a demand perspective, consumers are attracted either to the brand of a retailer, the price of a product, or the necessity of that product. Retailers can take advantage of big data to increase their branding in the minds of consumers with smart marketing strategies, along with positioning of products within their stores.


The surfacing of multinational franchises in the fast food and restaurant sector has intensified competition, putting local franchises under pressure. These franchises have been using Big Data analytics for some time and capitalise on the insights when expanding to emerging economies.

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