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Making Sense of the Value of Big Data

By Andy Varipapa

Making Sense of the Value of Big Data Blog Feature

Screen_Shot_2014-04-04_at_11.25.37_AMOkay, so we’ve all heard the term “big data” more times than we can count in the last few years, and as each service provider out there proclaims that “they can solve your big data challenge”, we tend to roll our eyes and just move on.

But quickly analyzing all that key data is a crucial component of any marketing strategy to significantly increase market share and brand awareness.

The importance of big data is that it is perceived as a way to identify how people behave and thus predict what they are going to do, i.e., the process of “predictive analysis."

Not convinced of its value? Just ask Procter & Gamble, an acknowledged expert practitioner in the field of consumer marketing. Want to guess how many daily transactions P&G engages in on a worldwide basis? How does 4 billion sound?

And they try to download every one of them to their global analytics center in Cincinnati, even if it’s from a handheld scanner in rural India.

Big Data 101

Before we go any further into the marketing aspects of big data, let’s first review some basic definitions.

“Big data” refers to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze. Gartner has a more detailed definition that goes a little deeper:

"Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making." (Source: Gartner)

The “3 V’s” – Volume-Velocity-Variety – is a term that is consistently attached to any discussion of big data.

Just enter “big data” into Google search and you’ll see more links to articles than you can ever read from numerous sources such as The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC, which has coined the phrase “data is the new oil."

Big data integration and real-time data analysis provide faster insights from unstructured data, such as social networking information from sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or text from mobile devices.

Infinite Opportunities

In order to realize new opportunities from big data analytics, you need to think beyond traditional sources of data. 

While social data will certainly provide you with key insights, you must also look at transactional data, machine data, and enterprise content.

Traditional analysis looks at data after it has been consolidated, and makes decisions and takes actions based on what has already happened.

Big data analysis looks at data in real-time, and makes decisions and takes actions based on what is happening now.

Gartner predicts that “big data will deliver transformational benefits, and by 2015 will enable enterprises adopting this technology to outperform competitors by 20% in every available metric." (Source: Gartner - Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing)

Benefits of Marketing Analytics

According to the McKinsey report, marketers need to focus on those products and services that can maximize sales and profits.

Prior to today’s digital revolution, it was difficult for marketers to determine which products and campaigns would best move the needle on sales and profits. But the abundance of data about consumers and the analytical techniques now available have made marketing a much more precise science.

Marketers no longer need to rely on guesswork or “gut feel” to make decisions that will drive both short- and long-term returns.

Analysis that separates short-term effects from long-term benefits can isolate those marketing activities that truly build brand equity.

With those calculations in hand, marketers have the data to make strategic, targeted decisions about where to make media investments to increase short-term activity or build long-term growth.

Photo Credit: Senior Living / reynermedia

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Published on April 5, 2014