Harnessing Big Data for Business Success

Trying to comprehend Big Data’s ever-growing, sophisticated and varied information is like playing one of those mind games where you try to imagine increasingly larger numbers in your head until you either get a headache or give up. You remember those games don’t you? For instance, try imagining the number of people sitting in a baseball stadium. Now imagine double the number of people in a stadium. It is dizzying. Isn’t it? In his article “Why Big Data is the Sexiest New Marketing Tool”, Josh Dreller quotes Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, as estimating that: "Humans now create in two days the same amount of data that it took from the dawn of civilization until 2003 to create". This notion is so significant that Dreller even repeats it twice. As I see it, today we have the same two options with Big Data, the concept behind one of 2012’s biggest buzzwords – get a headache or give up.

By choosing to engage in the exploration of Big Data today many companies will ultimately more effectively drive sales. In the meantime though, trying to process and make sense of the Big Data being uncovered will be a headache. The opportunity and challenge that marketers in particular face is described in Wes Nichols’ Harvard Business Review article “Advertising Analytics 2.0”. He describes the “granular, virtually infinite record of every action consumers take online” added to “oceans of data from DVRs and digital set-top boxes, retail checkout, credit card transactions” among others. Put into marketing terms Big Data begins to become less abstract and the challenge clearer. The information that marketers and others are collecting and now have access to is mostly irrelevant. For marketers, the key to navigating Big Data will be to follow David Meerman Scott’s practical advice of aligning marketing plans first and foremost with organizational goals.

The marketers and companies that alternatively choose to ignore Big Data are resigning themselves to Analytics 1.0.  By continuing to use outdated measurement approaches, these companies will be left in the dust as Big Data-focused companies benefit from the ability to react in real-time to the interaction of terabytes of data and hundreds of variables. The infinite, unstructured and unrelated nature of Big Data can understandably be intimidating for companies deciding to pursue it. However, the beneficial new insights into how the moving parts of a campaign collectively drive sales are invaluable to the success of today’s companies. By employing the right strategy and the right people, Big Data can ultimately be harnessed for business success.

Big Data is a hot topic! What do you have to say about it? Share your comments with us.


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