According to its own figures, the digital coupon system Payback has 80 million users worldwide, 30 million of which are from Germany alone. Just like Amazon, Facebook and Google, the company sends individualised advertising to its customers. According to Payback, shopping behaviour reveals a lot about the living conditions of customers: for example, if a man classified as single suddenly buys hair dying products, he is very likely no longer single. Customers who like to shop for tea, coffee or cigarettes particularly often also buy whitening toothpaste on sale. Payback also calculates how user profiles evolve: for example, if someone buys small animal food for hamsters or guinea pigs, a prepaid mobile phone will also soon be on the list. Why? Because kids are growing up. Anyone who buys diapers today will have a school kid at home in six years’ time. The mass of data allows companies to find correlations that would not be possible with a traditional customer survey. But some things are also simple mathematics, such as the example of diaper and schoolchild.
The Disney Group has equipped its theme parks with thousands and thousands of sensors. Visitors receive a wristband, the MagicBand, which is equipped with RFID technology. It serves as an admission ticket, hotel key, payment system and identification, for example to avoid having to queue after advance registration. At the same time, the park management knows at all times where crowds are accumulating and can react accordingly. The wristband is also used for targeted advertising and personal addressing.
John Deere, renowned worldwide for his distinctive tractors, is turning agriculture upside down with big data: sensors for optimum irrigation and fertilisation of the fields are on offer, as is a climate and weather app, which calculates the optimum time for sowing and harvesting. In addition, the company evaluates the data of all its machines and sensors worldwide in order to develop new products and strategies. Of course, the tractors of this company and also of other manufacturers can already drive over the fields remotely operated via satellite today – here, too, digitisation and the processing of a great amount of data from different sources play an important role: for example, drones can use infrared cameras to warn against wild animals or control sensors to determine where more or less fertiliser is applied on the field.
Illustrations: Christoph Kleinstück