Big Data is a hot topic. A quick look at Google trends tells us just how hot:
Think about everything you do in a day.
Now think about how many of these things involve the internet or a computer.
By virtue of using these technologies, all these little bits of information are being stored on hard drives and on servers. These little digital breadcrumbs are encoding a lot about what we’re doing, when we’re doing it and where we’re doing it from.
Big Data is about piecing together this information, using it to understand the people and behaviour that generated it in the first place. Interest in Big Data has exploded because of how much information we now generate. If you want an idea of just how much, consider this: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years.
At its essence, big data refers to data sets which are so large and complex they are difficult to manage using traditional methods and software.
So why is Big Data important for marketers?
Big Data analysis allows us to understand how and why we share information. In turn, we can ask how the consumption of this information drives actions and choices.
Anything that helps us to understand the forces that drive action is an asset for marketing. After all, marketing is ultimately about persuading people to take action.
By understanding ‘Big Data’, if we have ideas or behaviour that we want to spread efficiently and effectively, we can make them happen. That’s why it’s not just business who’ve taken an interest is the field, but governments, scientists and the military.
Given the size and complexity of the data sets Big Data insight requires very skilled analysis. So much so that talented Big Data analysts are now in high demand.
All this might seem a bit too generic, so let’s look at an example of a business using big data to drive its marketing and improve customer service. Netflix are an on-demand Internet streaming media service.
The company uses big data to personalise the experience of its customers, using the swathes of data it collects to help recommend content to users.
As this article discusses, the insight garnered from the Big Data provides a host of opportunities for how Netflix’s service can develop. Can it be used to keep users on the service for longer periods? Or would they prefer to monetize it, creating a premium service? Netflix are one example of a thriving company who have put big data at the heart of their strategy.
Big data represents a new competitive advantage for the big firms who’ve adopted it early.
The next question is, at what point will it be able to provide actionable insight for smaller businesses?