In a great essay in Foreign Affairs on "The Rise of Big Data" the authors describe the implications and meaning of it all. Since that is a premium article, I'll summarize a few key points.
The sacred cows of the analytic kingdom from research to finance have rested on three tenets.
- Quality of the data
- Representativeness of the sample
- Causation of the outcome
From your butt's imprint on a car seat (think anti-theft) to the spread of flu based on search terms to serving eviction notices based on the risk of fire, data now serves the role of providing the basis of taking action rather than just recommendations.
Marketing, like many other functions, has been datified. The path-to-purchase is riddled with opportunities to leverage intent signals from one touch point in the business rules for the next. We should now be asking questions like:
- What do consumers do before they do something next?
- What sequence of content consumption relates to making a decision?
- Where and when is the best place to facilitate choice?
If we're thinking about a report or a 3" research binder as the output from the data team, then we're thinking old school.