That was the topic of yesterday’s #Big­Dat­aChat, a live online dis­cus­sion hosted by the Guardian, explor­ing the rela­tion­ship between Big Data and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. If you missed it, here is a quick wrap-up.

Our  own Jamie Brighton, Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing Man­ager EMEA, joined the panel of experts, along with Mike Lev­er­ing­ton, Head of Cus­tomer Data, Guardian News & Media, David Lloyd, Data Plan­ning Direc­tor, Tullo Mar­shall War­ren, Scott Logie, Chair, Direct Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion and Strate­gic Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor, St Ives Group and Dr Dun­can R Shaw, Lec­turer in Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems, Not­ting­ham Uni­ver­sity Busi­ness School in the vir­tual forum.


The panel was kicked off by Dr. Dun­can R Shaw who shared his per­spec­tive on what Big Data is:

Big Data is the minute-to-minute per­sonal diary of every­one and everything

- just think what we could learn about cus­tomers’ needs and inter­ests by analysing such a ‘diary’.

It makes Amazon’s ‘peo­ple who bought these books also bought these books’ look very lim­ited in comparison.

Imag­ine sug­gest­ing just the right things peo­ple need, just when they need it and when they never would have thought of it.”

Clearly Big Data has huge poten­tial for mar­keters.  But David Lloyd went on to ques­tion whether the term is just yet another buzzword:

I’m opti­mistic about the poten­tial for Big Data. How­ever, equally scep­ti­cal about how the term is over-used to mean pretty much any­thing to do with data of any size.”As Mike Lev­er­ing­ton stated:

…I think it is time to drop the ‘big’ ele­ment of ‘Big Data’. It is just data.”

Scott Logie also shared his cyn­i­cism towards the term:

I’m a self-confessed Big Data scep­tic. That’s not to say I don’t believe in Big Data.

…fun­da­men­tally the chal­lenge remains the same; to find the out­comes that make the biggest dif­fer­ence for our busi­nesses and cus­tomers. Isn’t Big Data just another term like CRM used to stir us up and buy more technology?”

The key for dig­i­tal mar­keters, is know­ing how to sift through all the data that is avail­able to us and lever­ag­ing it to improve busi­ness results. As Jamie Brighton summarised:

The biggest chal­lenge that mar­keters face with big data is know­ing which data is rel­e­vant. Only once you’re look­ing at the right data points can you start to under­stand how to use that data to your advan­tage — by improv­ing mar­ket­ing cam­paign spend or onsite con­ver­sion rates for example.”

One clear over­rid­ing theme of the dis­cus­sion: it’s not how much data you have that mat­ters, it’s how you use it.

What are the main chal­lenges you face with Big Data? Does the size of your data mat­ter or is it just another buzz­word? Let us know in the comments.

You can read the full dis­cus­sion over on the Guardian’s Media Net­work Blog.

Fur­ther read­ing:
For­rester Report: The Big Deal About Big Data For Cus­tomer Engagement