“What we don’t need is more Big Data, we need actionable data.” This is a commonly acknowledged sentiment today with which I agree. Since we’ve been using the term Big Data for some time now, I think we can lose sight of its meaning. Briefly, Gartner defines Big Data as having three characteristics: high velocity, high volume, and high variety. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) in “Customer Intelligence Tames the Big Data Challenge” explains,
“Big Data examines what people say about what they have done or will do. That’s in addition to tracking what people are actually doing about everything from crime to weather to shopping to brands. It is only Big Data’s capacity for dealing with vast quantities of real-time unstructured data that makes this possible.”
In all areas of enterprise, teams and departments are looking for actionable data. There are endless benefits to managing Big Data instead of either ignoring it or allowing it to outpace your organization. Today we will look at industry research that provides three key reasons why your organization needs a Big Data and analytics strategy now. A Big Data and analytics strategy benefits your organization in several ways:
1 | Creating Smarter, Leaner Organizations
A well thought out and executed Big Data and analytics strategy ultimately makes organizations smarter and more efficient. Today, Big Data is being leveraged in many industries from criminal justice to health care to real estate with powerful outcomes. The same common sense approach to Big Data should be employed by organizations desiring similar results.
For example, HBR reports that the New York City Police Department uses Big Data technology “to geolocate and analyze ‘historical arrest patterns’ while cross-tabbing them with sporting events, paydays, rainfall, traffic flows, and federal holidays.” Essentially, the NYPD is utilizing data patterns, scientific analysis, and technological tools to do their job and to do it to the best of their ability. Using a Big Data and analytics strategy, the NYPD was able to identify crime “hot spots.” From there, they deployed officers to locations where crimes were likely to occur before the crimes were actually committed. Brilliant, right?
As I wrote in an earlier blog about audience management solutions, gone are the days of “go with your gut,” even in the police force, arguably one of the most instinct- and experience-driven vocations. This does not mean that instinct, human emotion, and reason are gone. It does mean that data is creating leads and context in which the NYPD can hopefully operate at an optimal level. Working smarter, leaner, and meaner. Big Data and analytics are helping the NYPD and other large police departments to anticipate and identify criminal activity before it occurs.
There are plenty of examples like these, in every industry, as leading organizations continue to practice what GE’s CMO Beth Comstock recently called “machine whispering”:
“The same logic is being applied to economic forecasting. For example, the number of Google queries about housing and real estate from one quarter to the next turns out to predict more accurately what’s going to happen in the housing market than any team of expert real estate forecasters.”
The question before us today is, how can Big Data and analytics be similarly leveraged by your organization to provide powerful results?
2 | Equipping Your Organization to Have Cross-Channel Conversations
As most organizations will agree (if we’re honest with ourselves), it’s simply not possible to carry out the conversations we once had with our customers. There’s too much dialogue coming in from various sources. We need help. In Forrester’s thought leadership paper, “Use Behavioral Marketing To Up The Ante In The Age Of The Customer,” they note that building “the technical infrastructure to support dynamic, cross-channel conversations with customers” is absolutely necessary for organizational impact. They go on to explain,
“It’s simply not possible to manage the delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content, offers, and products, across digitally enabled customer touchpoints when marketing tasks are semiautomated with a series of unintegrated software tools.”
Best industry practices today suggest staying close to the customer “by investing in customer insight.” According to “iConsumer: Digital Consumers Altering the Value Chain,” today’s digital ecosystem demands strong market intelligence: “Innovative teams will integrate emerging digital, social and mobile tools into more traditional ‘voice of the customer’ processes, and effectively build feedback loops into key business functions such as product development and sales.”
How closely does this describe your organization’s marketing efforts?
3| Preparing Your Organization for the Inevitable Future
What is that inevitable future? The digitization of all customer-facing organizational systems from customer service to sales to marketing.
The iConsumer report makes an interesting and noteworthy case for why structural changes within organizations (related to Big Data) are necessary now as reversals are likely to come. Reversals, MGI notes, come gradually until they come suddenly, interrupting “life as we know it.” They cite two interesting reversals. The first reversal was in the newspaper industry that moved from booming to near obsolete with the advent of online publishing. This happened within a decade. The second reversal was in the recording/music industry that moved from booming CD sales to obsolete (CD sales) with the advent of digital music. This also happened within a decade. Both reversals were gradual until they were sudden.
These are both great examples of the gradual takeover that Big Data management tools are having within the marketing teams and departments of every organization today. From the smallest mom and pop shop to the largest, international organizations, organizations that resist the scientific and systematic approach to data analysis, online advertising, and more will become obsolete. Fortunately, we are still in the era of gradual shift. Will organizations heed the warning before it’s too late?
The Big Data Reversal Is Coming: Is Your Organization Ready?
It’s just a matter of time before the sudden reversal comes. All the signs point to its arrival. The question is, will your organization have the proper Big Data and analytics strategy in place to survive the reversal?