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Making Sense Of Big Data

  • Jed Mole

    Jed Mole

Created at June 11th, 2013

Making Sense Of Big Data

Big data might be at the forefront of marketers minds, but for those who are still unsure as to what it is, or why it’s even here, it’s time to define and make sense of what – true to nature – can still be a fairly unstructured and obscure topic.

What is big data? Why is it important? And am I creating it?

Big data, the solution to marketers insatiable demands for customer information, is data which is too voluminous, varied and rapidly generated to be managed using traditional databases. Produced primarily by digital devices (think smartphones, sensors, POS devices etc), big data is both structured and unstructured information (anything from pictures, to videos, or social data) and is growing as more people gain access to, and are active on such devices.

It’s also incredibly valuable information, as richer data helps remove the blinkered nature of wide demographics, opening up a world of informed and personalised decision making. Basically, big data allows marketers to better know what makes unique consumers tick, then reach each one with the perfect offer at the right time; personalising their world, and increasing marketing success.

For example if you were using your phone to search for Japanese restaurants (or simply mentioned so in a social status), use of big data would mean your location and preferences could be recognised, and if big data-enabled marketing campaigns were well organised, you might be shown targeted ads of relevant places to eat nearby. Of course, you personally can control the amount of data you create and share with the world (privacy policies are thereto help protect your information), but if you’re online, then you’re probably creating a fair amount of data, and will have already benefited from such personalisation yourself.

Why do we need big data? What can it do for businesses?

With such fluid and instantly up-to-date data, sectors from retail to finance to communications are now better informed than ever before – transforming the way business (and especially customer service) acts, greatly boosting revenue potential. After all, if you can accurately understand and predict your target market’s needs, whatever sector you’re in, you can adjust your strategies to suit.

Used to analyse community relationships, track purchasing habits, product correlations, and monitor behavioural insights, analytical information (social data for example) can then be integrated alongside buying cycles, and used to ensure budget spend and strategies are best suited to achieve marketing goals, while making purchasing experiences more streamlined and unified. You want to be able to recognise and interact with customers as individuals, no matter their point of contact – which big data allows.

As a detailed informer, big data analytics lets organisations act in exactly the right way, in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, and this stretches far beyond just tailored advertising. For example, musicians can now use streaming, playback and purchase data to establish audience song preferences and tailor live set lists or even their style to suit. Even sports can benefit, as data collected from sensors and videos can be analysed to improve game technique and strategies.

But despite these advantages it’s not all easy

Of course no-one’s saying big data’s a miracle cure-all technology to solve all marketing and business problem across all sectors. And capturing, storing, curating, and harnessing this time sensitive, vast and varied information is not without its difficulties: success requires strong, well-managed analytics, and incredibly focused end data goals.

The key is to focus on how big data can make a difference to the consumer and use this to drive strategies and plans. A strategy to collect all the data is simply ‘hoarding’ and will result in a lot more noise within which the critical signals must be found. Putting the consumer first, will help focus attention on the key data you need to source and connect, increasing the signal to noise ratio.

Today’s 24-hour consumers now expect you to do a lot with their data, demanding fast-responses and constant availability. But the rewards for such seamless data harnessing are almost as big as the data itself – and creating a collage of digital intelligence to perfectly shape and optimise the consumer experience is to the advantage of everyone involved. Always-on marketing is here to stay!

5 step roadmap to dealing with Big Data

As grid computing pioneers Acxiom has over a decade of experience in answering Big Data challenges for some of the world’s largest companies. We’re focused on creating better connections that enable better living for people and better results for the businesses who serve them. To find out how we can help you to utilise big data and technology together to simultaneously benefit your business and your customers, download our free 5 step roadmap to dealing with big data whitepaper.