Big data and technology have become critical to a wide variety of industries in recent years, and the marijuana industry is no exception. Databases, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are having widespread effects on marijuana businesses, investors, regulators, and consumers. Cannabiz Media sees those effects through the growth of the Cannabiz Media License Database.

Through advanced data collection and the application of sophisticated algorithms, usable data is now available to help marijuana businesses predict trends, meet consumer demand, comply with regulations, improve the efficacy of medical marijuana, and maximize sales.

In fact, the list of possibilities that big data and technology bring to the marijuana industry is very long. Let’s take a closer look at three key ways big data and technology are directly impacting the industry.

1. Big Data Streamlines the Marijuana Regulatory Process

One of the biggest challenges in the medical marijuana market is the inability to conduct clinical research on the efficacy of marijuana because it’s still a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level. Therefore, the growing marijuana market lacks the clinical data needed to help marijuana businesses create new and better products. Global Cannabis Applications Corp. (GCAC) is trying to change that.

GCAC’s Citizen Green technology uses artificial intelligence and blockchain to collect clinical data directly from consumers in an effort to streamline the regulatory process that impedes the manufacture of innovative marijuana products. In simplest terms, the technology rewards people who complete surveys with cryptocurrency – digital tokens – that they can use for products available through global medical cannabis programs.

The survey data is reconfigured into a clinical standard and combined with data from actual clinical studies as well as product information. GCAC says its Citizen Green technology provides better patient outcomes and helps researchers find qualified participants for clinical studies, which ultimately, speeds up the approval process for new medical marijuana products.

2. Big Data Improves Distribution in the Marijuana Industry

The distribution process for marijuana products is different from one state to another, but it’s always complicated due to security and regulatory compliance concerns. When it comes to getting products to the final distribution point – the customer or patient – big data and technology are having significant effects. Companies like Eaze, GreenRush, and Meadow offer web and mobile apps that enable people to choose their marijuana products and have those products delivered directly to them.

You might not instantly think that marijuana delivery and big data go together, but think again. Eaze captures data related to customers’ locations, products purchased, time spent considering each product, amount of time items were placed in the shopping cart before being removed, and much more. The company analyzes all of the data it collects and uses artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and machine learning to put the information into usable formats for its clients.

Many companies use the data Eaze collects for marketing purposes – to target consumers with specific product messages, to create special offers, to develop new products, and more. The company helps businesses understand who their customers are and how those customers use their products. This data enables the businesses to develop better products and increase the return on their marketing investments.

3. Big Data Reduces Risk by Optimizing the Decision-Making Process

Today, big data is critical to decision-making in the marijuana industry. Having access to real-time intelligence can mean the difference between success and failure in this fast-moving marketplace. Technology platforms like Headset, Equio, and Zefyr track inventories, consumer data, and market trends from millions of data points. Using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, the platforms turn the data into meaningful information that clients can quickly access.

Companies use the data available in these platforms to analyze inventory trends, reordering, items sold per transaction, number of items sold per budtender, transaction totals, grow cycles, production schedules, packaging needs, staffing requirements, product launches, market share, sales projections, wholesale prices, consumer trends, consumer behaviors, consumer spending, healthcare trends, and more. The data can also be used to analyze competitor brands, competitor product releases, and competitor prices.

Having access to this kind of data helps marijuana business communications, spending, and decision-making, but it does even more than that. It also helps these businesses stay ahead of the competition and gain measurable market advantages.

Conclusion

Data and technology can predict the direction the industry is going in and what consumers will want next. Outside of the marijuana industry, global corporations like Walmart already rely on data to make decisions in all aspects of company operations. It’s not surprising that the importance of data has been recognized in the marijuana industry.

Bottom-line, companies that have access to real-time business intelligence and reliable predictive insights are better positioned to mitigate risks from all sources and increase revenue and profits. Data and technology – particularly data powered by predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning – have changed the marijuana industry, and there’s no going back.

Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.