Before being embraced as an “automobile” (and later as “cars”) engine-powered motor vehicles were called “horseless carriages.”
The smartphone in your pocket was called a “wireless phone” before being called your “phone.” Even the latest term “smartphone” is fading away and adopting the “phone” catch-all.
“Big Data” is one of those terms society is using as a mantra for the collection, validation, organization, analysis and implementation of ideas, based on recommended results based on information available.
It’s not surprising there is anxiety around the subject. Two-words, both big enough to be capitalized, are used to describe the possibilities (endless) and the ground-level realities (changing every month.)
Marketers are to use data points, such as engagement, views, form submissions, CTR, CPM, CPC, etc, to give an accurate view of how a brand is performing. Then, use that information to drive strategy.
But when does data become Big Data?
Start by defining Big Data. From my perspective, it can be implemented in two ways: as an verb (an action) or as a noun (a tool).
(verb/action): Suggests information should be used to inform business decisions based on analytics and trends. Data is viewed as something to be uncovered as a detective who pieces together multiple pieces of data to create an accurate representation of real life events.
(noun/tool): Puts the power of data interpretation in the hands of the users. In this instance, Big Data isn’t as much of a detective as it is the process of multiple people and departments gathering all relevant pieces of information to serve the investigation.
In 2018, Big Data is a mixture of both verb and noun. IBM, Amazon and pretty much every large financial and insurance institution have the money to invest in machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence is the next defining technological trend, but is being driven by the need for faster analysis of large amounts of data, which is ultimately a Big Data responsibility.
Big Data, Realistic Investments
For marketers without billion dollar research and development budgets, the future of a plug and play Big Data solution is still too far out for most to make direct investments in their infrastructure.
Marketers should be positioning themselves to be ready for future tech developments as they relate to capturing and implementing data-driven solution on the macro-level instead of viewing every new advancement in machine learning like as a marketing game-changer.
Here are five ways to look at the future of Big Data:
- The current, real time benchmark for data analysis is morphing into predictive analysis. You see this in action when you Google and results begin to sort before you finish typing.
- Data input and validation remains the biggest obstacle to implementation. Is your data accurate, useful and being entered in the correct way? A human needs to check.
- Even advanced machine learning computers from IBM, Microsoft, etc. require some of the most advanced human engineers to see incremental gains in capabilities.
- Existing data is more valuable than most realize, because it can provide customer trends, which then allows you to create personalized customer journeys.
- Customer service data has high potential value as automating responses and solutions to common questions, which removes the need for large customer service staff. But it’s up to your brand to collect this data.
I am bullish on the future of Big Data as a disrupting element in all industries.
The “Shortcut” of Purchasing Data
Data Management Platforms (DMPs) offer a pricey, but potentially valuable, solution to jumpstarting your data-driven marketing plans.
For lack of a better term, a DMP is a marketplace of consumer data to be purchased and combined with your brand’s existing data to target market segments in a more accurate way.
Retail and lifestyle brands tend to see the most success implementing DMP solutions when they uncover buying habits and reflect those insights into a personalized digital experience. Remember, DMPs service the data itself. It is up to you to make it work.
There is Still Time To Prepare for Big Data
This checklist will give you an idea of how prepared you are for the future of Big Data.
- You are currently collecting, verifying, and managing “first person” (aka, your brand) data.
- You have a long-term data collection strategy.
- You view data integration as the new SEO, in terms of strategic necessity.
- There is a “culture of data” that starts at the top of the organization.
- C-level executives are sharing data
- Your data is secure and meets all international standards for privacy protection.
- You are currently hiring or partnering with companies for data mining and business intelligence services.
Consistency is still a marketers best strategy. Don’t run away from what wins now. Great creative and great media plan to amplify your content managed by people that give a damn about results.