Rethinking Big Data: 5 Things Every Marketer Needs to Know

Rethinking Big Data: 5 Things Every Marketer Needs to Know
Don Hinman • April 26th, 2012

Last month the Global Language Monitor released a list of what they deemed to be the most confusing buzz words of the decade thus far. Topping the list was “big data,” a term we use frequently in the marketing world. The problem is there hasn’t really been a consensus on the definition of big data.

Wikipedia defines big data as a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes range considerably, from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.

Regardless of how you define big data, there are five things every marketer needs to know in order to effectively leverage big data to fuel strategies and achieve ROI.

  1. Despite how the Global Language Monitor has categorized it, big data is not simply a buzz term. Big data is a fundamental shift that will affect how our industry moves forward.
  2. Big data isn’t just digital data. It describes the vast enormity of offline and online data.
  3. Big data is data from your customers and about your customers. In our business this includes web logs, social networks and social data, internet text and documents, call detail records, large-scale ecommerce, purchase transactions and compiled data files.
  4. Today’s challenge with big data isn’t necessarily where to store it, but how to access it and take action. Data is useless if marketing—and IT—aren’t able to access it when it is needed, be that in real-time, or at least near real-time, to improve strategies and better engage with consumers across channels.
  5. A large quantity of data does not increase the value of data. Though the cloud has made big data more accessible, it doesn’t mean we need all of it. We must think about big data in terms of value, applications and solutions. Simply put: the data that matters is the data that drives business growth and campaign performance; data that helps brands acquire new customers, retain existing customers and improve the overall customer experience.