Saturday, June 1, 2013
What's the deal with Big Data?
The deal is that Modern Marketers have more data than they know what to do with. We're inundated with data. Data from our web traffic, marketing automation, CRM, list purchases, sales history, content consumption, click stream, et al. The challenge comes in making sense of the data so we can convert trends or correlations to actionable marketing activities.
Although I have always been a B2B marketer with little B2C experience, I suspect that the B2C folks (especially in the retail world) are much more advanced in data analysis. When I was completing my MBA degree, one of the classes I took was called 'Information Analysis'. The final project was to complete a multiple regression analysis of purchasing patterns compared to demographic data for a retail store. The result would tell the firm where to build retail stores for maximum sales with respect to the demographic data. The data was real from a case study and the retail chain was extraordinarily successful in part due to their analysis of their data, or big data if you prefer.
Big data is just a euphemism for statistical analysis of a huge bunch of information. "Huge bunch" is yet to be defined. If you agree with the definition of 'big data' posted on Wikipedia, very few companies really have 'big data' or will ever attain the status of 'big data'. However, all firms do have the ability to collect data and analyze it with basic statistical techniques. Why is it so hard?
Humans have been analyzing data for centuries. The earliest known use of statistical analysis dates back to the 5th century BCE. We've all heard the statement "lies, damn lies and statistics", but this does not do justice to the information we can get from data. Statistics can be manipulated, but they don't lie.
You don't have to be a genius to gain actionable information from your marketing database. I think the reason most companies are not analyzing their data is just a matter of hours in the day. It takes time and dedication to collect, organize, analyze, interpret, present and take action on big data analysis. What Modern Marketer has time for that type of activity? I'll end by saying that if statistical analysis will help me create and deliver timely and relevant information to a well defined audience who are ideal prospects for my offering, I'm in and all Modern Marketers should be in.