Are you taking advantage of the incredible technologies and vast data now available to marketers? Or are you treating your iPhone like a Discman? Let me explain.

Remember your old Discman? It was technically “portable,” but try walking or jogging with it and the CD would skip repeatedly. As the technology progressed, you could buy players with 3-second, 40-second, and finally 180-second anti-skip protection. That was a breakthrough feature back in the day—I could go running and enjoy steady tunes on my Discman.

Fast-forward to the advent of portable MP3 players. Suddenly, the most advanced Discman looks like a dinosaur, and anti-skip technology has been rendered totally irrelevant. Then smartphones come along, packing a cellular data network, SMS messaging, wireless Internet, video, gaming, endless apps, and music into one lightweight device.

So what if I was walking around with my iPhone held gingerly out in front of me, or I only listened to it when it rested on flat services? What if I only used it to hold music and never made calls, or skipped through songs one-by-one without looking at the touch screen? You’d think I was certifiably insane.

Yet that’s exactly how many people treat Big Data: they’re applying the old, irrelevant Discman rules to the robust capabilities of an iPhone. They don’t understand how radically digital marketing technology has changed, so tremendous optimization potential is going to waste.

Get Personal with Adobe Marketing Cloud

Digital marketers know they should be using their data to personalize. Monetate combined research from Forrester, IBM, MIT, and Columbia and then analyzed it for marketers’ views on personalization. They shared the results in a revealing info-graphic, titled “From Big Data to Big Personalization.”

Almost all marketers (94 percent) believe online personalization is “critical,” but only a fraction (26 percent) are targeting visitors in real time. Nearly 40 percent said they can’t leverage their data, and 95 percent of data within organizations “remains untapped.”

What these stark statistics are saying is that we have the data, but we aren’t mining it. We have great ideas and vision but aren’t taking action. Believe it or not, the tools we need already exist. It’s up to us to realize their power and full potential.

To extend the metaphor, the Discman is like a hit-counter—an outdated plug-in that only tells you one piece of data. The iPhone is like an entire marketing cloud, where data is easily accessed, technologies are as complex as our visitors, and everything is integrated. The marketing cloud is designed to help even inexperienced users avoid making erroneous assumptions about their customers based on overly simplistic data.

Big Data + Complex Tools = Personalized Simplicity

Adobe Marketing Cloud can seem complicated and overwhelming. But when used properly, it actually leads to greater simplicity and efficiency. It can also greatly enhance personalization, making the Web feel smaller and less overwhelming for your visitors.

Simplicity and personalization work together to meet your visitors’ requests before they ask. In digital, the definition of simplicity is getting to the good stuff as quickly and easily as possible. Busy, advertising-inundated consumers gravitate to low-friction sites. And a responsive visitor experience can be better at driving conversion than price or product comparisons.

Simplicity and personalization are the two great, untapped features of Big Data. The top conversion rate optimizers (CROs) are continually striving to greater simplicity and greater personalization to grease the wheels of conversion month after month.

In my next post, I’ll introduce three ways you can use the tools and data already at your disposal (i.e., Adobe Marketing Cloud) to enhance personalization and simplify the user experience.

In the meantime, ask yourself one question: What would I do differently if I suddenly realized the Discman in my hand was actually an iPhone?