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Why is Big Data still a marketing headache?

People the world over are having sleepless nights as they continue to get to grips with Big Data. It’s a two-word phrase with far-reaching ramifications. Some reckon it has the potential to answer all the unanswered marketing questions in the universe. They see it as the Holy Grail as it were… So what’s the big issue?

Well, let’s take a look at some of the data (yes that was intentional) that we have to go on. A recent study of nearly 800 of the top Fortune 1 000 companies showed the following:

  • In a list of what they rely on to make decisions, the people surveyed listed data dead last after engaging with their co-workers, seeking expert advice, conversations with managers and colleagues, expert advice and one-off customer interactions.
  • On average only 11% of the decisions they make when it comes to consumers are based on data.
  • Over 50% of those surveyed said they rely on past experienced and/or their intuition to make decisions.

Essentially we are relying far too much on our intuition, and not enough on the data that is right there waiting to be taken advantage of.

Is it because they don’t know about Big Data?

An eMarketer study reveals that people are aware of Big Data and the potential role it can play; so that’s not the answer.

What’s the problem? The simple answer is in the control and mining of the data that is available. In my view, most people in charge of a big company’s marketing division by and large understand the potential that Big Data brings. The problem is in extracting the data into a usable format.

The remedy here is in working closely with those who are the organisational custodians of information. When different parts of a company learn to appreciate the value that each has to bring to the table, the boundaries are virtually endless.

One person might understand what data is available and how to get to it. Another meanwhile will understand what data they need and what to compare it to and even more importantly what this data can tell them about their next move.

People list the following as their major challenges in getting to Big Data:

Whilst these are all valid reasons — to me they read more like “excuses” than “challenges”. What can people achieve from using data more than their gut feel?

  1. Gain a deeper understanding about your customers
  2. Identify and engage your top influencers
  3. Become a leader in customer support
  4. Get a leg up on your competition
  5. Generate new sources of leads and improve campaign effectiveness

Businesses must force themselves to be attentive to their data and to resist the urge of using it simply to track competitors. Big Data can tell you a lot about your market and as a byproduct — your competitors. Don’t let yourself be satisfied with looking only at your competitors as this is a small win.

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan is passionate about digital strategy and the convergence of technology and marketing. As the General Manager for HKLM; a strategic brand and communications agency; Jonathan's work includes strategy creation, aligning brand strategy; customer and technology to fulfil an organisation-wide brand-led objective. In 2013 Jonathan’s first book “Internet Marketing... More
  • Kent

    The conclusion is, Big Data makes us understand customers even more, so that we can take action to build relationship with them. :)

  • That’s 100% right! But the customer is not the only place where we can get Big Data. There is people-to-people; people-to-machine and machine-to-machine big data that all can assist us in ensuring that we are looking at predictive analysis and not just historical analysis – which is where the real power of Big Data lies!

  • Pingback: Link Roundup – October 15, 2012 | Enterprise Information Management in the 21st Century()

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