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Extracting value from uncertain data

2013 is the year you need to embrace "big data"

At TOC NY 2012 I made a point of telling attendees they need to learn the essentials of “big data.” It was still a fairly new concept then and a completely foreign one to most of the crowd. What a difference a year makes.

At next month’s TOC NY we’ll continue the dialog about big data and how it’s a resource every publisher needs to embrace. One of those TOC NY sessions features Rich Maraschi from IBM; I’ll have the pleasure of joining Rich in this session to help take big data from concept to reality.

If you’re looking for a great resource to read between now and TOC NY I recommend a whitepaper from IBM called Analytics: The real-world use of big data. I read it recently and found it to be extremely insightful. Here are a few excerpts that stood out to me:

One surprising study finding is the relatively small impact of social media data on the current big data marketplace. Given the extensive press coverage about social data’s impact on customer experiences, it would be easy to believe that big data means social media data, but only 7 percent of respondents defined big data that way. And fewer than half of respondents with active big data initiatives reported collecting and analyzing social media data; instead, respondents told us they use existing internal sources of data in their current big data efforts.

So in many respects, it’s not a question of creating a bunch of new data…it’s really about gathering and using the data that’s probably right under your nose.

Companies clearly see big data as providing the ability to better understand and predict customer behaviors, and by doing so, improve the customer experience. Transactions, multi-channel interactions, social media, syndicated data through sources like loyalty cards, and other customer-related information have increased the ability of organizations to create a complete picture of customers’ preferences and demands – a goal of marketing, sales and customer service for decades.

Sounds like a recipe for enabling better discovery. The more we leverage big data the greater the likelihood that we’ll one day look back at today’s recommendation engines as quaint and simplistic.

Mass digitization, one of the forces that helped to create the surge in big data, has also changed the balance of power between the individual and the institution. If organizations
are to understand and provide value to empowered customers and citizens, they have to concentrate on getting to know their customers as individuals. They will also need to invest in new technologies and advanced analytics to gain better insights into individual customer interactions and preferences.

Publishers often think of their “customers” as the retailer that sells to the consumer. Because of this indirect selling relationship most publishers have no idea who their actual customers are. Those names are locked up by the Amazons, B&Ns and others of the world. Although there’s still some data to be found with this model, the real opportunity with big data will ultimately come to those publishers who are able to create a direct channel for their customers.

I hope you’ll join us at TOC NY next month to continue this discussion.

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