Big Data: Friend or Foe?

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


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