Big data

How To Get Comfortable with Big Data

  |  October 31, 2013   |  Comments

We're not all data scientists, yet we are capable of learning how to digest and integrate data in order to help us make better business decisions; these tips show you how.

Big data Talk about big data overload... over the last few years, the subject has supersaturated marketers' inboxes. Actually, it is now our obsession; how much do we have and how we can better leverage it?

We do this to pluck out little nuggets of wisdom and turn them into viable strategies for businesses. The truth is, while big data sounds like the next big thing, there is one clear differential: more data exists now than ever before, and it grows every second.

So, why the explosion of information? First, consider the plummeting costs of storage and computing power over the last decade. According to the IDC's Digital Universe Study, this makes it easier for enterprises to catch and access large amounts of data.

Second, there's the ever-growing use of digital devices and platforms. This delivers more data to capture than ever before. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute projects a 40% growth rate of global data per year. They found that the constant rise of unstructured, social data across various platforms is a large contributor.

Soon, big data will affect everyone's life in one way or another. Although we're consumed by it, not everyone's brain works like a data scientist's. How can we get comfortable with our obsession? Here are some tips to help novices navigate the minefield of big data:

Start With What You Know

Take the things you currently use to gain insight or strategies for your brand and look at the data within that. For example, you always evaluate and monitor the competitive landscape, but are you leveraging it to understand pricing, promotions, marketing and media spend?

Know What You Want to Know

Finding nuggets of data can be like looking for a black cat in a coal mine. Often, it can be paralyzing. You see one trend, but then another contradicts it. Start with a goal. What do you want to accomplish? What data can help you answer the questions to test a hypothesis?

Deal With It

Data is not black and white. Yesterday's data says one thing, but it won't speak for tomorrow. Our habits and preferences change--and so does data--but it doesn't mean we can't make decisions, see what happens and adjust. The digital world grows with the beauty of testing and optimization. It's always part of the mix, as an evolving plan to improve performance. Still, you need to get cozy with big data, not just in shades of grey, but in a rainbow of colors.

Don't Overlook the Obvious

Many businesses thrive or dive by factors beyond our control, such as weather or natural disasters. To help us prepare and adjust, it's important to leverage seasonal, geographic and other obvious trends. Monitor your brand on social platforms. If you're not, please go towards the light; brands live or die by public opinion and reviews, as well.

Let's face it. We're not all data scientists, but we can learn how integrating data can benefit a business's bottom line. Check out the Social Science Research Network; they found that companies making data-driven decisions performed up to 6 percent better than their competition. It's a distinct statistical advantage that should make you think twice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Manus

As senior media director for the Razorfish Atlanta office, Amy brings more than 15 years of media expertise that spans across both traditional and digital media. Often noted for her passion of media and dedication to finding the right solution, Amy ensures clients business objectives translate into targeted, measurable, and successful initiatives. Although her skill set is vast, her greatest expertise centers in the worlds of media research, strategic media planning, interactive planning and buying, social media, analytics, and search engine marketing. Amy has worked with world-class organizations such as AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company, Pleasant Holidays, Clarins, Disney, Equifax, and Loews Hotels to name a few. Aside from her work at the agency, Amy has been a regular columnist for ClickZ's "Data Driven Marketing" vertical for the past five years and has been a contributor to notable industry media including Adotas, Media Post, The New York Times Online, and the IAB. Amy holds a double major in Marketing and Speech and Communications from Clemson University.

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