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Big Data Boosts Business at the Zoo

Althea Chang
Big Data Download
Big Data Boosts Business at the Zoo

Companies have been ramping up their use of “big data,” but analytics aren't just about big business. Zoos and museums are getting in on the big data bandwagon as well, one expert said.

"Lots of big data is being used by big businesses, but now you're seeing small and medium-sized businesses and smaller venues like Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium being able to use data about their customers, about the events that they're doing where they can leverage that to be able to improve the experience with their customers," said Rod Smith, vice president of emerging technologies at IBM.

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Since using big data to analyze online sales trends including the time of day when visitors buy tickets online, Point Defiance's online ticket sales have grown more than 700 percent, according to IBM.

While trends can be identified without analytics software, which can be intimidating for some business owners, big data companies like IBM and SAP as well as dozens of smaller big data players like Anaplan and SiSense hope to provide more companies with ways to organize and analyze their data simply and more quickly.

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When it started using analytics, The Cincinnati Zoo already had an idea that food and retails sales were higher at specific times of day.

"We helped them look at their data, and they were able to see that people bought food later in the afternoons," Smith said on "Big Data Download." The zoo moved its food carts closer to exits and increased its retail sales by 35 percent, Smith said.