Five Big Data Considerations for Marketers
This is a guest post by Michele Nemschoff, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, MapR Technologies.
In an episode of the popular NBC sitcom The Office, it was revealed that office manager Michael Scott still used a Rolodex for his clients, with each card containing information about the clients on the back.
After hearing this, many marketers of the younger generation may have to search the term “Rolodex.” But, even if you know what a Rolodex is, you’ll also know that it’s obsolete when it comes to making decisions concerning your customers. There’s obviously more data out there than can fit on the back of an index card. As an example, it’s estimated that the information from Walmart’s more than one million hourly customer transactions is stored in databases containing the data equivalent of 167 times all of the information in the U.S. Library of Congress.
This is Big Data. As a marketer at the forefront of driving your firm’s decision-making in regards to customer insight and offerings, there are some essential things you should know to be able to handle Big Data effectively.
1. Understand the Playing Field
So, what exactly is “Big Data”? Big Data can be defined as structured and unstructured data that is so large and complex it has outgrown the ability to aggregate and process it using traditional databases and software techniques. This can be a combination of information from marketing strategies to sales transactions, finances and customer service information. The ability to evaluate all of this information together on one playing field could prove quite valuable when it comes to making decisions regarding how to best serve your customers.
2. It’s No Longer About Hindsight
In the not-so-distant past, trying to correlate all of this information meant time-consuming searches created by providing parameters to the IT department, which would then cull the information from several databases. Now, Hadoop solutions are offering marketers the potential to analyze these massive amounts of data in real-time, based on the filtering criteria of their choice. The insight gained from this type of analysis could drive immediate decisions based on your customers’ social media interactions or their feelings about their most recent customer service experience.
3. Pick Your Battles
Individual organizations will have different considerations when it comes to Big Data and how to manage it. Evaluate your organizational goals when making these decisions. The mindset for handling Big Data is different than the “plan, then do” attitude of traditional marketing. Big Data starts with experimenting, then learning and evolving. Consider your objectives when deciding what data you need to evaluate, and focus on the data that compares performance against those objectives.
4. Know When to Call in the Big Guns
The reality of the situation is that with this focus on Big Data, traditional preparation for marketers may not apply in the new marketing world. The traditional role of marketing as an independent business function may change, and the structure of the marketing sector may change as well. Software engineers, who will be the ones in charge of embedding the marketing strategies into the code, will play a larger role in the marketing sector. Organizations may also bring in marketing scientists who will evaluate and transform the Big Data into more easily understood information that marketing leaders can then translate into strategy.
5. You’re in the Captain’s Chair
Regardless of the changes structurally, the fact is that marketers will still be pivotal in making financial decisions regarding new investments in IT solutions for Big Data. In order to do this you must be able to show that analysis of Big Data will lead to improvements in the organization’s top line. Spending money on Big Data solutions will improve products, customer experiences and make marketing dollars spent much more effective.
Big Data is no longer just an IT issue. In skillful hands, marketers can use Big Data to take their organization to the next level.
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