MBM Thesis Explores South African Retail Companies' Journeys into Data Science

MBM Thesis Explores South African Retail Companies' Journeys into Data Science

Rejan Botes Explores Data Science Application in South African Retail Marketing Strategies 

On 1 December, Rejan Botes, presented his Graduation Assignment and Final Project (GA/FP) Oral Defence in Apeldoorn and sought to unravel the intricate landscape of data science within the marketing strategies of retail companies in South Africa.  

To understand the extent to which data science is integrated into the marketing practices of Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies in the country, Botes took on an in-depth exploration for his MBM (Master of Business Management) degree with a specialisation in Digital Marketing.  

Botes, from South Africa, delved into a thorough literature review, establishing a base for his research. He also created a theoretical framework based on the Resource-Based Theory. He explained, "Companies are increasingly interested in big data because it provides them with accurate insights. These insights offer companies opportunities to make data-driven decisions."

Botes applied his theoretical framework to numerical data, revealing that data science applications— encompassing fields such as Computer Science, Machine Learning and Statistics — in marketing strategies were most pronounced among large retail companies. This positions these companies to capitalise on economic opportunities and mitigate potential threats in their operational environments. 

"Large retail companies, through active data science application, have positioned themselves at the forefront of building sustainable competitive advantages," he explained.  

His findings also shed light on the significant deficiency of data science skills and their application within medium and small retail companies. Despite the complexity of this challenge and external factors affecting potential solutions, Botes proposed practical implementations to initiate the adoption of data science in these companies.

Botes advocated for tangible actions, stating: "To overcome the challenges faced by medium and small retail companies, practical steps such as internship programmes and employee training initiatives in data science are crucial. These initiatives can jumpstart the much-needed transformation, ensuring competitiveness in our increasingly digitalised world."

Internship programmes

Botes recommended hiring potential statistics, mathematics and computer science students willing to do internships at companies. This initiative, although involving minimal wages, provides companies with access to vital skills, allowing practical implementation in operations and marketing strategies. This approach also facilitates 'knowledge sharing' with full-time employees. "This strategy not only benefits companies but also creates valuable learning experiences for students, bridging the gap between academia and real-world applications."

Training initiatives

At the same time, Botes urged the introduction of data science and analytics courses for current employees. This strategy, involving interns and online courses, serves to kickstart the necessary transformation. It addresses the urgent need for skills development within companies to remain competitive in an increasingly digitalised economy and global landscape. "Employee training is a strategic investment, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability," he emphasised.

Botes hopes that his research not only shows the differences in how South African retail companies use data science but also provides practical solutions to bridge the gap. He hopes to give companies, whether big or small, a plan to use data science effectively and stay competitive in the future.  

As for his own future, Botes wants to stay in the Netherlands and gain more experience in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics. He also hopes to start his own company in this field. 

WUP 22/1/2024

by Erene Roux

©WUAS Press