Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Dealing with Big Data: Take a Deep Breath First

What do we do about 'Big Data'?

First, understand what we mean and second, not panic.   From my perspective marketing's 'Big Data' is the result of a world where everything is interactive and people are the media. As such it supports the view that transactions, events and comments across channels, locations, and devices are all part of Big Data.

On the second point, I read an interesting post and discussion on how to think about the problem from Wim Rampen.   The central theme is around questions we should be asking ourselves.  In his words....

It’s no time to panic, and it’s not the time to go out and buy all the technological solutions you may be led to think you need. What does it mean to go into calculated, strategic mode?
5 Questions to enter strategic mode
A good way to start being calculated and strategic about this is asking yourself 5 important questions. Here the are:
  1. Start with asking (business) questions you need or want answers to. This could be any question, related to your processes, your customer needs, habits, your points of sale.. etcetera etcetera. Because, if you do not ask the right questions, you will never find the right answers in any data, let alone Big Data.
  2. Re-think what you need the answers to your questions for: what is the proposed value coming out of knowing the answer? Will knowing the answer eventually result in creating more value for the company and the Customer? Is it actionable? If not, skip the question and focus on the ones that do provide actionable insights. There’s little time and little money, so you need to be effective with both resources.
  3. Ask yourself: how can I obtain the answers to the questions fastest and cheapest? Can I get closer to the answer(s) by first asking my Customers? Can I get closer by first using data I already own? More data does not always mean better data. Relevancy is not always easy to establish, but 9 out of 10 times, the not so so sexy, not so far away, not so expensive is good enough. You don’t need to be exact all the times. You need to be closer than before.
  4. If you still think you need to tap into Big Data, or need surrounding solutions, make sure you start any project with experiments and prototyping. Evaluate and iterate in short cycles, until you get it right. And don’t waste too much of your time getting it right. People will loose interest, and even if you get it right, chances of success decrease exponentially if people hopped on the next train.
  5. Last, but not least, ask you self the question if you need all this “in (near) real time” like ‘they say’. Or that running your analysis once works just as well, because the patterns do not change that much.

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