The Next Step for Big Data

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). CES in the last few years has become dominated by marketers, agencies, and technology vendors; some call it the Cannes of the winter. And CES is increasingly important now that the Internet of Things is upon us. Now, marketers have more and more opportunities to build relationships, share information, and promote products/services in ways only imagined as a futuristic possibility in movies like Back to the Future or Minority Report.

I was surprised that my panel was on the topic of big data, as it seemed very much like a 2014 buzzword and a problem that was generally solved. But nevertheless, my panel consisted of colleagues from some powerhouse companies in the marketing tech stack space, especially big data, like Oracle, IBM, Adobe, and MarketShare. We had a lively discussion about how big data is more important now to chief marketing officers (CMOs) than it is to the chief information officer (CIO). By 2018 it is predicted that the CMO will spend more money on technology and application of big data than the CIO. Why is this interesting? There are a number of factors coming together that are changing the way we should think about big data.

  1. Big data is no longer about how you collect and scale the system to handle large amounts of data cost-effectively. That problem has been solved, and there are reports showing that the cost of storing large amounts of data in the cloud will approach free in the near future, making it possible for most companies to capture and aggregate customer oriented data in a major way.
  2. The number of data collection nodes are growing. Everything a consumer uses in their daily lives is becoming digital, connected, and able to phone home with interesting real-world information about location, behavior, speed, temperature, interest, etc., which exponentially increases the number of variables marketers can use to triangulate on and build profiles against. Many brick-and-mortar companies are installing beacons to monitor and alert their customers about promotions, new items, or streamline their interactions. For example, Starbucks prompts you upon entry of your favorite drink order, and with a simple swipe, your drink is ordered and paid for – all you do is pick it up and go.
  3. Big data and the robust audience profiles created can now be used for more than a standard broadcast (or push) advertisement. This data can be used smartly to create immersive, content – rich messages while still being relevant, meaningful, and pleasant to the consumer. This reduces the annoyance and waste associated with traditional messaging.

In 2015, we will see the evolution in big data companies from solving the “how to capture and store” problem to “how to make the data useful.” All of the companies on the panel are working to solve this next-generation problem and are already doing very innovative things. For example, IBM is working with an ISP to explore all data associated with a consumer and to understand cross-device behaviors at a very granular level. Additionally, MarketShare is working with a large CPG company to integrate 100 percent of their digital marketing experience data and to provide attribution models that prove the marketing budget is working to drive revenues. Our companies understand that marketing is a revenue generator and no longer a cost center. We will use big data, predictive analytics, and improved application of the data to finally prove the actual value of marketing while eliminating or, worst case, minimizing waste or unwanted audiences.

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