Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman 4 November 2015

Why Should You Be Obsessed With Big Data?

If you aren't harnessing big data you're running the risk of being left behind by your competition

Why should you be obsessed with big data?


Big data is a term which is being thrown around a lot in the marketing world today; but is unfortunately often misunderstood by individuals as well as those regularly using or hearing the term.

Regardless of widespread understanding, big data isn’t a fad that’s going to disappear from the marketing scene any time soon. Indeed, big data is increasingly becoming a large part of how the world is understood, across all disciplines and professions. If you aren’t harnessing big data to help support your professional interests, you run the risk of being left behind by your competition

Therefore, what exactly is big data, and how can it be used to give you the edge in a complex world which is now more connected than ever?


Quantifying And Understanding A Complex World

On a very broad level, big data can be described as the result of the proliferation of analytical systems in today’s world; individuals and businesses are now able to gain access to an incredibly large set of data pertaining to their professional interests, often in real time.


More specific definitions have been attempted in the past; Gartner analyst Doug Laney described big data using a model called the ‘3 Vs’, back in 2001. The ‘3 Vs’ model defines big data as being high Volume, high Velocity and of high Variety; large amounts of varied data, being collected at high speed.


In this way it becomes easy to see that big data isn’t a new idea per se, it’s just the logical endgame of statistical analysis; using as much data as possible to make informed decisions. When it comes to providing business insights, Big Data can be used in a great variety of ways, from studying the demographic information of existing customers, to analysing the operation of your competitors. When utilised correctly, Big Data provides businesses with a winning edge.


Big Data Is Already Transforming The Marketing Industry

The very nature of the marketing industry makes it a very obvious beneficiary of big data coming of age. Questions that were once answered with gut instinct, or educated guesses, can now be definitively answered with solid data. Big data provides a solid foundation for any marketing decisions, strengthening the understanding of a business’ perception by customers and the public at large; illustrating areas where marketing strategies need to be strengthened or refocussed.


Whether part of an internal marketing team, or a larger marketing agency, Big Data makes marketing strategy both easier to plan, and easier to justify. If analysis of sales information, through a program like Google Analytics for example, indicates that sales have been faltering in a specific country or region, you are automatically provided with a marketing area in which to redouble your efforts. There’s always something to improve when it comes to marketing strategy, and Big Data makes targeting your efforts an absolute cinch.


Those That Are Leveraging Big Data Are Seeing Big Results

Of course, all of this would be mere conjecture without some practical examples! One great example of this is the story of a man who jokingly requested a porterhouse steak, via Twitter, just before taking off on a domestic flight, only to find that Morton’s steakhouse were waiting for him at his destination with the requested order. Some who covered the story treated it solely as a victory for customer service, which it inarguably was, but it was a larger victory for the combination of Big Data and marketing.

Through their analytical and social listening tools, Morton’s Steakhouse were able to not only identify the original tweet, but to ascertain that the man who made the request, Peter Shankman, had over 100,000 followers on Twitter. So, while ensuring a customer’s loyalty with an over the top gesture, they were also able to get a positive marketing message in front of 100,000 consumers, without appearing to be marketing at all.


By leveraging Big Data, this kind of opportunity is readily available to be capitalised on; targeting is taken care of, so marketing becomes more about creatively seizing opportunities. With Big Data, effort isn’t wasted, so you can focus your efforts on where it’s needed most.

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