Jul
05
2013

Industry Trends 2013 – Small steps towards big data

 

Starting the big data journey

Big data is the big buzzword. You’ll find it on the lips of politicians, captains of industry and pundits — it’s even described as the ‘new oil’. So what’s the big deal?

The thing about big data is that it is as important as everyone says it is. Modern businesses need to harness the huge amounts of information that their customers share about themselves because, frankly, it delivers priceless competitive advantage.

Companies at the cutting edge of data management are reaping rich rewards: slashing costs and driving efficiencies; creating single customer views so they can engage with individuals (not blasting communications), to realise higher returns on investment; and building cross-channel engagement strategies so that they are always where their customers are. Benefits are breath-taking, but herein lies the problem.

For many organisations that have yet to jump on the big data bandwagon, it can all sound terrifying — so terrifying that it’s putting them off joining in at all. The fear is that something that brings such significant rewards will require similarly significant investment. How on earth can a company that hasn’t harnessed its information before go from data zero to data hero?

If you recognise this feeling of big data angst, it’s time to step back, take a deep breath and have a nice cup of tea. To put it into a more reassuring perspective, every company that is now a data colossus was once in exactly the same place as you — and probably not so long ago either. The difference between you and them is that they took the first steps. The good news is that these steps are a small and, with specialist know-how, relatively simple.

First, identify the data that drives your key business KPIs — this might, for example, be a combination of contact addresses, customer feedback and POS information. Then, prioritise this data, manage effective data capture and verify at point of capture using validation software (checking postcodes, mobile numbers and email addresses, etc). And finally, ensure that this information is hosted in a single database, with ongoing accuracy ensured through regular, automated database cleanses.

And you’re done.  You now have a rock solid foundation for Big Data benefit. With this business focused, high quality data you can start adding all the bells and whistles, depending on what you want to get out of it.

You can, for example, use segmentation and data profiling solutions such as Experian’s Mosaic, to find out more about your customers than you ever thought possible: where they shop, work and live; the newspapers they’re likely to read; the messages they appreciate from businesses; the communications devices they use; and the times they like to use them. Now that’s BIG.

Just a few small steps can bring some really big rewards — and who knows where they’ll take you?

Don’t miss my next Industry Trends 2013 post: United we (under)stand – joined up customer insight.

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