Leveraging Frontline Employees’ Small Data and Firm-Level Big Data in Frontline Management: An Absorptive Capacity Perspective
Lam Son K., Sleep Stefan, Hennig-Thurau Thorsten, Sridhar Shrihari, Saboo Alok R.
The advent of new forms of data, modern technology, and advanced data analytics offer service providers both opportunities and risks. This article builds on the phenomenon of big data and offers an integrative conceptual framework that captures not only the benefits but also the costs of big data for managing the frontline employee (FLE)-customer interaction. Along the positive path, the framework explains how the “3Vs” of big data (volume, velocity, and variety) have the potential to improve service quality and reduce service costs by influencing big data value and organizational change at the firm and FLE levels. However, the 3Vs of big data also increase big data veracity, which casts doubt about the value of big data. The authors further propose that because of heterogeneity in big data absorptive capacities at the firm level, the costs of adopting big data in FLE management may outweigh the benefits. Finally, while FLEs can benefit from big data, extracting knowledge from such data does not discount knowledge derived from FLEs’ small data. Rather, combining and integrating the firm’s big data with FLEs’ small data are crucial to absorbing and applying big data knowledge. An agenda for future research concludes.