One of the premiere trends in marketing intelligence lately is Big Data. Always starting with capital letters, we find Big Data in every publication, on every conference agenda, and on every marketing researcher’s radar screen. But sorting through all the Big Data noise is difficult. According to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office, “the amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus.”
A quick Google search for “Big Data” returns nearly 800M results. Starting with Wikipedia, we learn that “Big data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying and information privacy.”
Indeed, those are the challenges of working with big data. But an even greater challenge is what do we do with it to drive better decision-making for better business results? As one of our clients recently said:
“How do I use all of the research and “Big Data” we have now to help make more informed decisions for my brand, to launch new products, and get more people to purchase. We have data on all of these customers who have used rebates, coupons, filled out forms, stood up on social: how do we target them and get them into the purchase funnel to actual purchase?”
MGI and McKinsey identified three ways that Big Data will transform marketing:
- Big Data can make information transparent and more usable. In the retail arena, this might lead to a better customer experience across channels if all points in the customer experience have consistent inventory information available.
- Greater customer segmentation can lead to more precisely tailored products or services, increasing customer satisfaction, sales, and loyalty.
- Big Data can improve the development of the next generation of products and services.
But the discussion over Big Data rages: is it the only information you need for marketing decision making? Or just a way to find incremental advances and improvements?
In his new book, Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends, global brand expert Martin Lindstrom argues that Big Data is unable to lead to breakthrough insights for marketers. Big Data is focused on numbers and analytics. Breakthrough insights are based on emotions, he argues. Big Data will never be able to tell us anything about love, devotion, coolness, or any of the other emotions that have propelled brands and products into global best-sellers.
Without a doubt, Big Data can create marketing efficiencies. Indeed, Big Data is invaluable in optimizing the customer experience, especially across online and brick-and-mortar channels. But Big Data alone will never deliver breakthrough insight about your customers.
Big Data is a tool, and an important one, but one of many that marketers must use to monitor continually, understand and motivate their target customers. By using different approaches to collect and evaluate data – of all sizes – marketers can uncover the important revelations about customers that lead to innovative and exciting new products, compelling marketing communications and productive strategies.
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Informative article you have shared here. The obsession with data is slowly taking over the world with every industry dependant on data for some or the other purpose. While it’s exciting that most companies are making bigger investments in big data, marketers should not forget that it takes people to make sense of the information.
I completely agree with you, big data and the surrounding investment is most valuable when people are able to make sense of the information and find relevance. It’s even more important to be able to translate the information into something useful for strategic decision making and take action with it. Often times the big data requires follow-up custom primary research to really understand the business implications of what’s been uncovered and determine the next steps that will be most impactful.
The amelioration accrued with the concept of Big Data is ubiquitous and an obvious axiom. However, it is quite arduous to substantiate it in terms of its interruption in key decision points. Having said that, academic and industry Research Analyst should embark on making this a Business case whereby it is systematically substantiated with concrete Facts and figures. i.e. the effect of data interruption on key decision Points does make a difference and serve as a competitive differentiator.