Type “What is big data?” into a Google search box and you’ll see an endless list of results; big data is a big topic this year. SIGMA CEO Kenyon Blunt recently included it as the #2 item in his Top Ten Marketing Trends for 2012 post.
“Big data is getting bigger…it doesn’t have to be just big technology companies that can harness the data and use it for marketing. New technologies and cloud computing have opened up all sorts of possibilities for smaller marketers as well.”
The definiton from Wikipedia is as follows:
“big data consists of datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools.”
“One current feature of big data is the difficulty working with it using relational databases and desktop statistics/visualization packages, requiring instead "massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers."
It’s likely that many of us marketers reading the descriptions above and related articles/blogs find it a little overwhelming. For many marketers in mid-sized or even enterprise companies, big data means too much data. With new channels and tools, we find ourselves gathering more and more data, often faster than we can decide what to do with it.
What can we take away from all this talk of big data? Chances are your data is getting bigger and this trend will continue. The point is not to worry so much about how big your data is, but to ask yourself whether you are extracting enough value from it. It’s also possible that an idea you had a year or two ago was deemed too resource-intensive to implement. With new big data tools and capabilities, it’s worth revisting these ideas.
Here are 4 questions to help you leverage one of your most important assets, your data:
- How does this new data help us learn something about our customers and their behavior? (If the available data is overwhelming, choose one segment to start.)
- How can we analyze this data to glean more knowledge about our customers? Do we have the analytical processes in place to accomplish this task?
- What actions can we take as a result of our analysis? Do we see new opportunities to grow our business?
- How will we know if we’re successful? What will we measure?
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to move forward with an actionable plan. By bringing your technology and marketing teams together — whether internal or outsourced — you’re better positioned to implement the right plan to accomplish your objectives.
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