Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big Data…Where to Start?

I have recently been discussing “Big Data” with savvy technology professionals who amaze me more and more with the fascinating realities of what we can do now, what we are so close to doing and what we will do in the very near future.

As a marketer and operations professional, I have utilized data to look for patterns of what was going right, wrong and trending for a very long time. (I once developed an entire inventory, transfer, buyer data and reconciliation system from an old 10 key cash register that had 7 “department” numbers and the ability to randomly enter numbers – which I used for SKUs!) Fortunately, I have also held positions where I managed unbelievable marketing and technology talent and we did some very sophisticated loyalty, affinity, acquisition, share of wallet, launches and target market development. So, for me data has been the breadcrumbs that have lead me to implement some very successful strategies.

What I seem to sense in marketers is a misunderstanding about “Big Data”. I recently attended a seminar on the issue and folks asked questions like, “what is it?” It is not something new. It is just more data from additional sources such as social media, additional transaction and web browsing data and the like. I look at it like just more toys in the toy box! These bright shiny new toys, along with the old ones, are great tools that can help lead to educated decisions on consumers’ and business’ propensity to behave or purchase or donate, or whatever your goal or question is.

And this brings me to where to start. Start with your biggest questions or challenge the embedded beliefs about your market. Don’t be afraid to start with an old exercise of a quadrant analysis and then match all existing data to each record. Once you have done this, what conclusions can you draw about your market? Are your best customers who and what you thought they were? Do you see opportunities in your Q2 data that suggest that if you market to Q2 in new areas or ways, they are very likely to shift into Q1? Test it and find out.

As you begin to actually see what data (big and small) you have to work with, you can begin to develop new theories, see new patterns and receive direction from the data that will lead you on a journey to devouring data to help you succeed and make ‘wins’ faster and with higher ROI than ever before.

With this, I close with Happy and Fun Marketing! Enjoy your new toys!

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