From the barter system to the introduction of currency, from snake-oil salesmen to business development managers, from cold-calling to e-mail blasts, commerce has been evolving since the days of lore.

So how are we evolving in 2021?

Well, BIG DATA, that’s how. Data data data data and more data with some data on the side and if you can’t consume it all in one sitting then you can doggy bag it home with you thanks to cloud technology.
Data regarding web searches, credit card purchases, education level, relationship status, whether one likes grumpy cat or Doge the dog, wine or beer or soda, going to the gym or rather surf the couch… I could go on, but you get the point. Or do you?

There is a reason that Data Mining and Analysis are top in skill-set demand now.
After all, somebody is going to have to stitch together all this data and create a story explaining why trends are moving the way they are.
Yet, how much value should one place in these story lines? Or how dependent are these story lines on big data?

Online sales doubled in 2020 versus 2019, not because consumers hold online retail in high regards, instead they were forced in that direction due to the Covid lockdown.
Restaurants suffered, grocery stores benefited.
Hotel bookings came to a screeching halt, home furnishings/electronics sales soared.
etc.… Was this a story line that Big Data foresaw? The answer is a simple: no.

All the data in the world couldn’t predict a massive shift in global economy.
So that begs to answer the question how important is data for your enterprise?

Being able to find a pattern in how your customers, and their customers in turn, purchase shouldn’t be too difficult, as long as you don’t lose yourself in the “what if” scenarios.
What is the impact of the weather on buying habits? Does it matter if people prefer coffee over tea? If your business is all about caffeine, then the answer is yes. If your product are umbrellas, then not so much…

If anything has taught us about the Covid crisis it is the need for flexibility in our decision-making process. Many restaurants changed their focus to take-out, this included Michelin star establishments who, in turn, had to adjust their offerings as Lobster Bisque Flambee with truffle licorice does not transport well in the insulated delivery bags.

Which brings us back to how data is important for your decision-making process. Using the Michelin star restaurant as an example, data could inform them which kind of restaurant are delivering in their neighborhood, what is the average spendable income of the population, what kind of food will easily survive a max travel time of 30 minutes, which fresh produce are available in my area, and on and one we go.

Commerce in 2021 can not ignore Big Data.
Commerce in 2021 should not lose itself in the quagmire of algorithms trying to predict the unpredictable.
Commerce in 2021 should be agile.

In order to be agile, one needs to keep things simple.

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