Big Data is changing the future of insight: here’s how

Data visualisation

Data visualisation

An impressive collection of unusual experts on Big Data were brought together by (and from) the Future Foundation today for their first London conference of 2014 titled “Big Data and the future of Insight“. From the outset it was clear this was a Big Data conference with no regurgitation of the usual talking points when the morning began with the statement “Big Data can tell us Pop Tarts sales increase 700% when there is extreme weather predicted but can it tell us “why?”.

The answer is of course, “no”, not without additional insight and work. It sounds simple, but it is often the most overlooked part of Big Data it emerged throughout the morning. More often than not companies actually have Little Data that is under utilised or misinterpreted according to Future Foundation. It’s important to know the difference and act (and plan) accordingly.

James Murphy, editorial director of Future Foundation, posed multiple thoughtstarters to the audience throughout the event:

  • Will Big Data mean that brands become “driver-less” and instead be run by science alone?
  • Will Big Data stabilise some companies in the short term but cause them unforeseen long-term issues?
  • Will political regulation really make a difference to the way brands use Big Data?

House of Cards was heralded several times throughout the morning as an excellent example of Big Data being used to refine and minimise risk using the same data but used at different times and in different ways to produce insight.

Attendees from a wide spectrum (agencies to media houses, FMCG to retail giants) had interesting questions for the organisers and panels ranging from the future impact of Edward Snowden, personalised marketing realities, ethical considerations of retail spaces and emerging new career paths.

Big Data Career

Summing up, there was a lot of talk around the promise of Big Data but without real insight it is “close to useless”. When “big data stands on the shoulders of insight we see real change and real opportunities emerge”, per Murphy.

Four things people/brands should be doing when it comes to Big Data

  • Review your Big Data strategy: are you simply collecting data or are you creating tangible value? Is the difference clear to the right people in the organisation?
  • Retailers should use Big Data to augment the physical experience as much as the digital one (perhaps more so): Datafied stores are the future — invest now to make sure you are nimble later.
  • The potential for health and Big Data should not be underestimated: 56% of young people in the UK are interested in using health tracking apps. How can you take advantage of this interest through partnerships and investment?

    Big Data Health

  • Think about the emotional response your Big Data insights and strategy cause: Just because you can greet someone by their name doesn’t mean they want you to or it won’t cause a negative effect.



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