Since 2012 we heard “Big Data” and many of us asked similar questions about this latest addition to Webster’s Dictionary of Business Jargon. What is it anyway? What data did I work with all this time? What’s the difference? I’m assuming the IT folks collect all the data – big, small and medium? Where do I find it and how am I supposed to use it all? This all seems nebulous. Oh, I’m sure it’s in “the cloud” with everything else, right?
So here’s a marketing explanation for “Big Data,” one that sheds light on some misperceptions. For decades, the past serves as a basis for business decisions. We report any data in quarterly reports, trend lines, financial analysis and historical sales. Thanks to technological innovations, the internet, wireless communications, instant information, cookies tracking every movement online and real time analytics we can now collect data instantly. The capabilities exist to capture immediate data on pretty much everything we would possibly want to know. That’s “Big Data” – a ton of information that can be collected and accessed in an instant to help make decisions.
If we didn’t need “Big Data” in the past, why need it now? The answer: competitive advantage. In the past, only a few years ago, business operations and historical data served as the basis for developing and marketing products and services. Today, your competitors mine data, gather insights from Social Media, review consumer comments across the web, listen to what customers want and then innovate new products they know someone will pay for. Yes, your customers tell you exactly what they want – it’s not a mystery anymore if you listen.
1. Identify business goals. What do you want from the data? What could or would you do if you knew something different? How will you create value?
2. Understand the data you collect now. Identify missing data.
3. Secure the systems, software and resources to collect your data.
4. Make sure you have effective methods to analyze it. (Strategic partnership and software already exists.)
5. Analyze it and revisit Step 1. What do you know now that you didn’t know before?
6. Make some decisions. Change. Do something to enhance customer experience with your brand.
“Marketing is the new finance.” Ann Lewnes – CMO Adobe
Ah, the tide turns in favor to marketers. Marketers CAN NOT leave this function to IT or Finance. In fact, some traditional IT trained professionals are being absorbed into marketing teams. Marketers can extract insights from data and turn it into value producing strategies. Develop your data strategy and then partner with your IT teams to help assure the correct captured data and analytical tools for your marketing team. Not convinced? Just Google “Social Scientist.”
As I type this blog post, I’m listening to Pandora, and was just served an emotionally charged ad telling me about how my family would benefit from a vacation in San Diego at the Hotel Del Coronado. Big Data? Well, I stayed at the Hotel Del Coronado just three days ago without my family…and next week the kids start Spring Break. This was no coincidence – “they” know where I went and what I like to do. I guess I’ll see you next week in San Diego.