Getting Big Data in perspective in 2014

 By Chris Lee

We hear a great deal about ‘Big Data’ and why marketers need to successfully exploit data to better personalise their marketing. In 2014, how can marketers get beyond being caught in the headlights of Big Data and actually use the right kind of data in the right kind of way?

The pitfalls to Big Data

For Patrick Lopez, managing director of strategic marketing insights and consulting firm Northstar, Big Data offers tremendous opportunities but at the same time presents equally great challenges if marketers are to be successful and avoid failure.

So where are the greatest pitfalls, in Lopez’s eyes? 

“They’re found in three of the basic requirements of the Big Data model,” Lopez told NMK. “First is the ability, as an organisation, to agree what data is important. Every stakeholder can and does have a different definition of success, different goals and, therefore, different success metrics.  Which metrics are important?  Who decides what is important?  And to whom?”

Along with disparate goals is disparate ownership of data, Lopez argues. 

“Who owns social media data may be different from who owns sales data; who is different from who owns website data, and so on,” he added. 

Overcoming a siloed data structure internally is another difficult challenge for a marketing organisation, Lopez said, and lastly – but potentially the most important element in this formula, he believes – is the ability to synthesise, analyse and make actionable recommendations from Big Data. 

“There are exceptional firms in the space developing databases, analytics and reporting platforms.  But there still needs to be some element of art at the end of all that science,” he concluded. “2014 will undoubtedly see some notable successes in this arena; but it will also see its share of failures as well.”

The end of the law of averages

For Tina Judic, managing director of digital marketing agency Found, 2014 will see an end to the law of averages approach as marketers realise that online engagement and awareness “simply aren’t enough anymore”.

Judic believes instead that 2014 will be all about how marketing can deliver beyond brand stand-out and how it can equally produce continual leads, sales and ongoing business.

“Exponential internet growth plus our empowered consumer’s desire for more enriched, relevant and personalised content, will equally bring opportunity for business growth or for business failure,” she told NMK. “Crucially, 2014 could also see the end to the law of averages for marketing as we move way beyond probability to more honed, strategic delivery.  Marketers now need to have a 360° holistic and data driven approach to understand their customers’ full purchase life cycle and need to embrace each sales channel as a way to gain, grow and retail their product.”

Beyond the inevitable focus on mobile as the main marketing channel that could also cleverly bridge on and offline, Judic believes that the arrival of Marketing Automation – with its pre-defined journeys and triggered communication during the sales funnel – will ultimately answer to the industry’s need for more leads, more sales and business growth. 

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