MAD Perspectives Blog

 Seek Actionable Data Within Big Data

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Before anyone pursues a marketing, sales or product strategy, they collect data. It is data about the market and its trends or needs. It's data about the prospective customer - who are they, where are they, what are their needs? It's data about competitors, their products, their go-to-market strategy, their offer. We collect all this data, and more, to validate our goals and align our strategies.  We desire sales leads, web traffic, sales. We want to understand our position relative to the market, customers and competition.

We've been collecting data for ages. We have gigabytes and petabytes of data, but often we don't know what to do with it. We know we should be utilizing it to support marketing plans and product roadmaps. We collect even more data by deploying social media monitoring solutions, but we can't prioritize actions. We are buried in data - yet Big Data is the Big Buzzword across every industry. The IT industry loves it as it provides them with new solutions for their customers. The promote storage, business intelligence and analytics. Manufacturing, financial services, media, consumer goods and hospitality businesses are interested in any opportunity to better understand their customers and sell more products or services.

So, now we have all this data. What are we going to do with it. Is it even the right data? Can we analyze the data to prioritize customer requirements and then adapt product, marketing and sales strategies to meet those requirements? If we're trying to sell widgets, do we understand how our customers are using those widgets? Have we collected the data that will tell us how our customers want to sell them widgets? This is the potential power of Big Data.

The who, what, where, why and when is the holy grail of Big Data. Understanding the context of that data is the challenge that must be overcome. Sifting through the mounds of data to eliminate that data which is irrelevant is critical. Using human skills to assess the meaning behind a Facebook post or Tweet and then correlating that to other comments can reveal the actionable data (note, not Big Data) needed to develop the right programs to influence customer behavior.

Data has hidden narratives that with the right analysis reveal the story that will compel customers to take action. We can capture and map the data, but we don't always see the underlying story. There is great value in data driven content creation. Social media provides even more customer touch points. It provides marketers with the ability to intelligently segment their customers based on contextual and cultural insight. Don't just settle for a Big Data solution. Consider what data you really need to drive tangible results. Take a step back and consider what kind of data can really impact your strategy.

What's your perspective?