Big Data: Don't let what can be your biggest strength paralyse you!

Does the term Big Data baffle you? We decode what Big Data essentially means, why is it called the ‘sexiest new marketing tool' & how can CMOs master it

e4m by Maneka Tanwani
Updated: Aug 8, 2013 9:18 AM
Big Data: Don't let what can be your biggest strength paralyse you!

Does the term Big Data baffle you? Are you exasperated every time you are asked to “leverage business intelligence and analytics to harness Big Data and drive actionable insights for real-time decision-making?”

The aim of this article is to do way with jargons....well, from now onwards...and simplify this over abused term Big Data. We will talk about what Big Data essentially means, why is it nothing to be scared of, why is it called the ‘sexiest new marketing tool’ and more importantly, how can marketers give their business an edge by mastering this revolution.

So, let us first tackle ‘What is Big Data?’

Big Data is nothing but organisational data that has grown to gargantuan amounts. This comprises both, structured and unstructured data. There is no need to delve into what structured data is; however, unstructured data is every piece of information that resides in every email, excel sheet, presentation, video, social media, etc. The reason this data is precious is because it can help marketers understand consumer behaviour like never before. In today’s shifting digital landscape, marketers can pin point why consumers buy a product, when are they most likely to buy, what drives them, etc. with the help of Big Data and then strategically target them. Sounds awesome? Well, in an ideal world, it is. But, we don’t live in an ideal world, now do we?

Understanding Big Data is challenging. There is no two-way about it. If one look at the speed at which data is increasing and changing business dynamics, it is enough to flabbergast companies. Data is growing by the hour and this is making getting real-time information all the more difficult – this includes mobile, data in company customer centres, sales data, etc. Keeping pace with it is a nightmare. To add to the woes, there are issues of incorrect data, duplicate data, redundant information systems to store data...the list is quite long.

But when done right, there is no doubt about the tremendous power the right data can wield to understand customer needs. Here is a look at how CMOs can deliver high value marketing campaigns with Big Data...

Five ways to mastering Big Data

Data-driven DNA
Before CMOs begin their Big Data journey, the first step to take is drive home the importance of data analysis. This means ensuring that all internal stakeholders buy in the idea – right from the top management to the junior assistant manager. This is because data analytics is serious business. Not only is it time consuming, it is also a very expensive affair. So if the company is not going to make efficient use of the cultivated data, the entire exercise is futile. Data-driven approach has to be instilled in the DNA of the organisation and the mandate lies on the CMO’s shoulders.

Map information
Almost 3 Zetabytes of information exists in the digital world today. This equals to 3 billion Terabytes! No wonder we do not know what to do of this data. And to make matters worse, more than 80 per cent of this data is unstructured. There is abundance of data in organisations but it is not centralised in one storage system. Data lies in emails, thousands of excel sheets, presentations and charts that do not talk to each other. CMOs need to first map the data available to them, then identify mission-critical sources. After prioritising the information channels, they should look at analysing only that data as per their requirement.
Such a methodical approach will ensure relevant and timely data is available.

If marketers look at numerous data sheets, then try to figure how to cull out relevant data, and use it effectively to drive positive will be overwhelming. This is not the right way to approach Big Data. In fact, it is the opposite. What marketers need to do is first outline the objective of mining data and then go about fulfilling that need. For example, if a marketer wants to gain insight on the effectiveness of her digital campaign, she should look at data from that point of view. This makes it easier, doable and effective.

Define a goal
This is an extension of the earlier point. Marketers should have complete clarity on what they want their data to be able to do. Otherwise, it is equivalent to running like a headless chicken. A clear vision will help link insights to action. If the goal is to bring out the biggest influencer behind purchase decisions, marketers should identify areas that hold such information. In this case, it can be social media or the company’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, etc. Marketers should then go about systematically mining that data. One should not forget that time is of essence here and information becomes redundant extremely fast in the digital era. Once intelligence is derived from data that is already sitting with the company, it should be used to get actionable results.

Join hands with the CIO
Now, we come to the most important thing that marketers need to put their efforts towards. The technology leader – be it the Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer or IT Evangelist – of the organisation is best placed to guide and support the marketing function. CMOs need to align their teams with the business technology function to understand evolving technology and how it can be used to get optimum results. Marketers understand consumers the best and CIOs are technology will definitely thrive when the best of the two worlds come together.

This article is an attempt to simplify the term of the year ‘Big Data’. Though there are numerous whitepapers on the subject, exchange4media has tried to make sense of it in the simplest way possible. Hope we have achieved it... 

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