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Marketers need to take a data journey

KEEPING THE THREE CS IN BALANCE

The advent of big data has changed the way organisations work forever, yet there is still some misunderstanding about what this asset can do for marketing. This is about more than generalisations; it is about getting to the crux of the matter and delivering focused projects with defined results.

Discussing the findings of her recent co-authored study Big Data's Big Meaning for Marketing in Forbes, Fatemeh Khatibloo, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said that there remains a lot of "confusion and mistrust" as to "what big data really is, what it can do" and how best to align it to existing strategy.

Naturally, that disconnect between data comprehension and data ambiguity results in a shortfall – organisations are never going to be able to tap into this resource with the kind of expertise and wisdom that is needed.

In which case, what is data about, from a marketing vantage point? Ms Khatibloo explains that it is not necessarily about volume, velocity or any of the usual concepts that are thrown about.

Instead, the expert continues, it is about a journey that every organisation must take to get from a state of confusion to one of understanding. That transition, which involves "closing the gap between the data that’s available to them, and the business insights they’re deriving from that data", is significant.

Her colleague and co-author Brian Hopkins agrees. Writing on Forrester's company blog, he adds that there are four things businesses need to grasp. Take these on board and you're on your way to data enlightenment.

They include strategy (what you do with data, not how much you have); action that disrupts the status quo; accepting that risks come with taking on new initiatives; and going beyond the standard definition of big data (mainly the numerous Vs).

"Instead, refocus your change effort on keeping the three Cs in balance," Mr Hopkins advises. "A data-driven culture; the competency to leverage data that is more diverse, messier, and larger than you’re used to; and the technical capabilities to put the right insights into the hands of your customers and employees."