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At this year’s Digital Cream event in London we hosted a series of roundtables discussing big data and, more specifically, ‘data-driven marketing’ alongside senior marketers in the industry.

The three sessions gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk about key issues in big data as well as tackling both widespread and sector specific problems.

Big data is such a contentious issue these days, mostly down to the overuse in marketing headlines and sound-bites. However, there was a serious desire from all attendees at Digital Cream to get to the crux of how the big data landscape is shifting and how to survive it.

The overwhelming view was that big data cannot be ignored and proactive steps must be taken to remain competitive. The only problem was – how?

Data in itself is worthless; it is how you use data to create actionable insights that has true value. However, as businesses are deluged with constant streams of records, it has become increasingly difficult to pick out the truly valuable needles from the data haystack.

It was evident that everyone would embrace the adoption of big data tools if:

  1. There was a clear understanding of the potential benefits.
  2. The tools were simple to implement and use.
  3. The process could be placed in the hands of the front-line departments and not siloed away in the ‘data science’ lab.

There is also going to be a certain amount of education needed for businesses wanting to make the most of big data tools.

Most marketers are familiar and comfortable with processing tables of data to uncover trends that can help with future campaigns, but few organisations are able to react to data and statistics ‘in the moment’ and provide real-time responses to trends, whether they are positive or the undesirable type.

One common problem with the travel sector is being able to maintain an ongoing relationship with customers. Holidaymakers tend to research online and then pick the deal that matches their wish-list, regardless of supplier.

This generally happens once or twice a year, so the frequency and time between interactions is very sparse. If the travel industry could become more personal towards its customers and really engage them as individuals, then businesses would start to see a much higher degree of brand loyalty.

Big data tools have the potential to provide this deeper insight and to provide a rich analysis of user behaviour.

Overall, there seems to be a gap between the needs of the business end-user and the current crop of big data tools. On one side, the tech companies are keen to hear which pain points could be solved with their analytics platforms.

On the other, businesses are waiting for the tech companies to demonstrate what the hidden possibilities are and what real business value they aim to provide.

It’s going to be a slow process if we maintain this stand-off, so it’s vital to support events like Digital Cream which seek to gather industry leaders in one room and discover together where the exciting opportunities lie.


Published 17 April, 2014 by Guy Mucklow

Guy Mucklow is CEO at Postcode Anywhere and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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