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When I first started my career, storage was not at today’s inexpensive levels and one of the big challenges was utilising the space available in efficient an ingenious ways. Over the years the price has plummeted with space becoming freely available and available data growing exponentially. In recent years the ability to use this data has become possible with development of Big Data removing the historic problems of storage and access in reasonable, practical timescales.
But what does this storage potential mean for marketers? Is it just more data? Many I speak to are wondering about the applications and this is also suggested by Dave Chaffey's review of Online marketing trends for 2014 where Big Data was voted as having the third biggest commercial potential for Smart Insights readers.
In this post and a short series, I'll be exploring how the increase of available, ever growing, ever changing data be utilised in the Marketing arena?
To begin with let’s look at what we mean by Big Data. As a starting point you may have seen this visual, technical definition of Big Data which is useful since it shows that the potential of using Big Data for marketing isn't just about increasing volumes of data.
The Data Velocity vector shows how marketers now have access to real-time data, such as real time analytics of interactions on web and mobile sites and also social media interactions. The question is, how do we harness it.
The Data Variety vector shows how new types of unstructured data, including again, social media interactions offer potential too. This also suggests the potential of integrating different sources of data to gain more customer insight.
I will explore the applications of each of these in future posts.
Let's now look at an example which gives a sense of what's possible with Big Data. If we start by looking at a game between you and a few other people, after a few hands you will have picked up the rough style of play of each player and get a feel of how you should play them. Taking this a step further you may have kept a tally of the cards and have an idea of how the cards are stacked (assuming not shuffled) and which cards may be in sequence. This gives you a basic understanding of your environment, which depending on how well you can memorise the information helps you play and hopefully win the coming hands.
Looking at the diagram below you can see how this can progress from basic understanding to detailed informed understanding of not just one game, but multiple games across many people all interacting in and out of the game.
This shows how basic data for a regular game of cards can expand, which if we take into an online gaming environment would cause an explosion of information covering:
This volume, growth and range of data has been used to define what Big Data is, with it simplified to the 3 V’s of Big Data:
So going back to the original question what is the value of Big Data, in the card game example the value is potential to win overall, by knowing the best moments to play aggressively, conservatively, how to direct conversation, offer drinks, etc. So what is the value to Marketing if we assume that volume, variety and fast changing data is a given, available and usable? In the title I put forward two possible value points:
So does Big Data provide a new paradigm or is it an extension of Data Driven marketing, with the accessibility and availability of information enabling a greater take up.
To look at this I will take each of the 3 V’’s of Big Data and look at their potential impact on Marketing in a following series of posts.
By Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts is the founder of the consultancy BlacklerRoberts Ltd and is an experienced marketing professional with over 18 years experience in the Direct Marketing arena across multiple industry sectors, including Financial, Leisure, Retail, and Charity. His passion is the delivery of value from data, using the customer and related information to deliver actionable insight driving improved customer value and understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.
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