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Big Data and Marketing: A Confused Relationship?




big dataThis post comes from our Analytics Channel Sponsor iJento whose mission is to help marketers turn fragmented data into unified, actionable customer intelligence that accelerates their business.

Clearly Big Data is one of 2013’s biggest topics.

It’s all we hear about at every conference. It’s all vendors seem to want to talk about. I was at a marketing conference a few weeks ago and there were so many Big Data references that presenters actually started to apologize for overusing the term.

Despite the rampant overuse, some marketers are still confused.

If you asked 20 marketers the question, “What is Big Data,” you’d probably get 20 different answers. Its enough to make us want to bury our heads in the sand, and dismiss Big Data as just the latest buzzword.

However, if you do that, you could be exposing your business to significant risk.

According to a 2013 PwC Digital IQ Survey, 62% of respondents believe Big Data will help them deliver competitive advantage.

However, getting there is not half the fun in this case, as according to a recent eConsultancy infographic, 60% of marketers cite disparate technology and data sources as the biggest barrier to leveraging data to better attribute their marketing programs.

So as marketers, we urgently have to ask ourselves: what is the competitive disadvantage of not understanding and harnessing the power of Big Data in our marketing now.

First, Let’s Start With What Is Big Data?
As everything we do in the world increasingly becomes digitized – like eCommerce, hanging out with friends via social networking, or how your waiter now enters your order through a handheld device at your table – the amount of data being collected is exploding. According to research firm IDC, the world’s data is growing 50% each year, and doubling every two years.

Big Data is the term that has been widely adopted to describe these large and ever-growing amounts of data now available to organizations.

Big Data.iJento

A few years ago this meant data could be managed by a few in-house specialists, but today the implications of data are now wide reaching.

There are logistical challenges in managing, sorting, and maintaining this data; but there are also the subsequent benefits from having these large quantities of data available at your fingertips for analysis and action.

So what will the implications be for marketers?

Big Data And Marketing

1) Big Data Will Become The Basis For Competitive Advantage
Big Data can support almost every single marketing objective – from deeper customer profiling and targeting, to campaign analysis and even predictive analytics. Overall, most industry experts agree that Big Data, when handled effectively, will improve marketers’ decision making.

2) Creatives Will Take A Back Seat To Data Scientists
Traditionally marketers develop “…“big ideas” around 30-second TV spots and then try to coordinate their radio, print, and online campaigns to match.” (The Interactive Brand Ecosystem: Put Interactive Marketing At The Heart Of Your Branding Campaigns. Forrester Research. November, 2011) Now that the majority of adults across the globe not only online but also using the web to manage everything from their shopping to their personal health, this approach to marketing has to change. Forget Mad Men’s Don Draper, the Harvard Business Review says that data scientists will be “the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”

3) Big Data Won’t Be As Important As Your Data
With such great expectations around Big Data, it seems that marketers are meant to reinvent marketing almost overnight and start benefitting from the much-promised insights immediately.

“The real opportunity is not Big Data, but small data.”

However, simply getting started can seem like a daunting task when data is sitting in different places, coming in from all varieties of digital channels, CRM systems, analytics tools, and on and on. “How can I conquer Big Data, when I can’t even conquer My Data,” is a common marketer’s refrain.

“Forget Big Data,” says Rufus Pollock, Founder and Co-Director of the Open Knowledge Foundation. “The real opportunity is not big data, but small data. Size in itself doesn’t matter – what matters is having the data, of whatever size, that helps us solve a problem or address the question we have.”

Focus more on the data you have today versus getting caught up in trying to solve Big Data. Start small, learn as you go, and leverage your learnings to move forward into a Big Data world that we as marketers can definitely understand and benefit from.

The opinions in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Marketing Pilgrim.

About the Author

Paige OneillPaige ONeill – CMO, B2B Marketer, Digital Photographer, Dog Lover, Bay Area Resident. Ms. ONeill is currently Chief Marketing Officer at fast-growing marketing analytics startup iJento, where she is responsible for global marketing strategy, positioning, demand generation, communications, social media and iJento.com

She is an eighteen-year B2B marketing veteran, with experience across marketing software, enterprise software, wireless technology, Software As A Service/Cloud computing, green technology, social media, and supply chain software.

  • http://www.acsius.com/ Arun Singh

    Creating more data to support few out of a massive data. Creating without being tagged, creating while being linked, creating a lot without being redundant, creating a lot with originality… This is somewhat Google utopia…

  • DataH

    Paige, nice article on Big Data. Designed by data scientists, HPCC Systems is an open source data-intensive supercomputing platform to process and solve Big Data analytical problems. It is a mature platform and provides for a data delivery engine together with a data transformation and linking system. The real-time delivery of data queries of the Roxie component is a big advantage for marketers needing to take action from data insights. More info at http://hpccsystems.com.

  • Tom Deutsch

    It is a dubious approach to segment big data sources from small data sources in thinking about how to use them – it is all just data and needs to be used consistent with the problem you are trying to solve.

    At DataH – enough please with the spamming all the sites with marketing. Not effective or in the spirit of the postings

  • KriszR

    Paige, great topic! I used to work for one of the world’s largest market research companies and data was our breakfast, lunch & dinner :).
    There are two points I’d like to emphasize:
    1. Quality data is crucial.
    2. Correct (‘right’) interpretation of data is essential.
    There are so many corporations who have loads of data (quantity is never a problem to most of them) but they lack the expertise and knowledge / understanding to interpret these data correctly.

  • paigeoneill

    Thanks for all the comments. Appreciate the engagement — which I think underscores the importance of this issue. Tom, agree with your point, I was simply trying to say that since many marketing organizations are stuck in paralysis mode, getting started with small data sets and trying to set achievable objectives can be a way to at least get started.

  • shankarsahai

    Completely agree with points #1 and #2, Not so much with the rest. But good post overall.