Why The Big Data Phenomenon Is So Wrong

  • Posted: 14th April 2014
  • Written by:

    Jason Lark  @nasojlark

Big Data

Are you worried about “big data”? Do you feel ill-equipped to deal with the challenges that big data represents? Or take advantage of the opportunities big data offers? Fear not! Managing Director, Jason Lark gives his opinion on the increase in data volume and, more importantly, how to handle the big data phenomenon.

Ask most marketers what keeps them awake at night and you can guarantee that somewhere high on the list will be the much-trumpeted rise of so-called “big data”.

One recent report claimed 70% of marketers feel unqualified to handle big data opportunities.

And who can blame them? After all, a number of large consultancies have done an amazing job of firing up and provoking market concerns, creating challenges that they have a conveniently productised solution to. There are seminars, conferences and training courses all eager to help marketers tackle this new ‘challenge’.

It reminds me of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. The discovery of gold in them there hills sparked a stampede of tens of thousands of prospectors eager to get a slice of the action; but the journey proved too hard for most and only a fraction ever actually struck gold. In fact, many of those who actually found fame and fortune did so by avoiding the masses; they looked in the opposite direction and focused on offerings such as selling food and supplies to the Klondikers on their trip.

Big data analytics

Don’t get me wrong, there is truth in the fact that data volumes have been increasing over the last 2,000 years, and yes, brands do have more data now than ever before, but actually the ability to handle the data has developed at least in line with the volumes generated. We no longer need to collate the contents of the Domesday book by hand; I would consider that a big data challenge!

The point I’m making is that the volume of data isn’t the issue; it’s the ability to manage it, to identify what data is important and ultimately recognising what data adds value to your customers and brand.

When our clients come to us concerned about the big data issue, we give them the following advice:

Look at the data and ask yourself, does this:

  1. Improve when I communicate to my customer?
  2. Improve what I communicate to my customer?
  3. Improve my ability to generate increased revenue?
  4. Allow me to reduce the cost of marketing, whilst delivering better ROI?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t bother with it! These simple rules can help you to navigate through vast quantities of data and identify the data ‘gold’ that will make the difference.

Of course, there will always be those who say “big is best”, but there is no real skill in accumulating vast quantities of data. It doesn’t really matter whether you have millions of records or just a few thousand; the expertise lies in reducing the complexity and focusing your attention on delivering value to your customers in an easier, faster and more effective way than anyone else can.

That might not sell too many solutions to solve big data, but it will certainly give you everything you want as a marketer; more effective customer communications, more profitable customer relationships and inevitably better return on your marketing investment.

That, I would argue, is way bigger than big data will ever be – that’s pure gold! What do you think?

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