64% of Companies Deploy Big Data — 56% Struggle To Get Value From Their Data: A Contradiction?

Many predict that 2014 will be a breakthrough year for Big Data marketing. Yet Tom Fishburne, in his latest Marketoon, refers to observations from Gartner that 64% of companies are deploying or planning to deploy a Big Data project, yet 56% struggle to know how to get value from their data. (Gartner On Big Data: Everyone's Doing It, No One Knows Why, by Matt Asay in ReadWrite.com

The Fishburne cartoon shows a meeting with the group leader saying:

"Let's solve this problem by using the big data none of us have the slightest idea what to do with."

With Permission, Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.com

No One Doubts That The Promise of Big Data is Significant. 

The problem, Asay notes, is that Big Data doesn’t replace Big Ideas. It’s what you do with the data that matters. As Big Data matures and starts to deliver on its promise, big marketing ideas to leverage the power of those Big Data insights will be needed more than ever.

Here's how Gurbaksh Chahal explained it in: 2014, The Year Marketers' Big Data Gets Real (Wired): These days consumers expect to be able to text, talk, go online, and communicate instantly whenever and wherever. All of these tiny interactions send an overwhelming amount of valuable information to marketers in real-time -- browsing behavior, social media interactions, mobile device usage, geo-location, click-through rates, online purchase patterns, and the list goes on.

However, simply compiling all this data doesn't automatically lead to better marketing. Rather, it's the insights derived from this big data goldmine that influence the decisions marketers make and the actions they take making all the difference… said Chahal.

"It seems that they've allowed the hype around Big Data to both motivate them to start, but also confuse them as to where they should go," wrote Asay.

Here are some further observations from respondents to the Big Data Marketoon:

* So many think big data is going to supply them with some sort of insight, idea, or instantly reveal some hidden truth when it's actually the other way around.

* I’ve seen many companies struggle with Small Data, let alone Big Data.

* It’s much like the Emperor’s New Clothes – no one wants to actually be the one to stick their neck out and publicly admit “I don’t know how” or, even, “I don’t know what it is”.

* Our start point is to try and clean up what we’ve got, to understand what we know and see what it might be able to inspire (marketing-wise)… THEN we can implement an automation programme, based upon processes that work for us, and generating data that we expect.

* We’ve used the following approach to big data several times, comparing customer and consumer trends in our CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) business. You need to ask: When do sales start on a new product or a seasonal business? Where are they felt geographically? Which channels perform better than others? …and then use that to match up promotions at the right place and time to engage with consumers.

* Data’s role is to drive better decisions. The fact that decision-making process in most companies is flawed and full of cognitive biases… Big data itself is not going to solve this issue.

* Part of the problem is overreach – always needing more data to try and get a fuller picture. It would be wise to dig down into the data available already and look for locked up value.

* What made Big Data useful for our company before I purchased it: Setting the parameters to narrow the amount of data to a usable/useful quantity; understanding what to ask the data; (understand) the goal of obtaining the data… and (knowing) how I planned to use the results… (Also), I have seen many examples of multiple people looking at exactly the same data (big *and* small!) coming up with very different interpretations and ideas about how to apply those interpretations.

* At some point the overload of info coupled with a natural desire to work through it and/or a sense of nervousness about not digging deeper, can, in my opinion, slow a process down rather than speed it up.

* A good idea executed on a timely basis beats a better idea that never gets past the spreadsheet.

Bottom Line For Your Big Data Bottom Line

The sooner we approach Big Data as a creative challenge rather than a technical one, the sooner we’ll start to see it make a real difference...

Big Data is all about asking the right questions, which requires business context, and then iterating on your project as you learn which data sources are valuable, and which questions yield real insights...

So the excitement about big data isn't a false alarm after all -- it's more about removing confusion over Big Data, knowing where to start, where to go, where to end, and for what benefit?


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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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