Big data has been a buzzing around like a mosquito for ages. And like a mosquito it can get a little grating in your ear, which it is almost all the time given that we’ve reached a point of media saturation.
That annoying buzz, buzz, buzz made new research from IBM somewhat shocking. Earlier this week Big Blue shared the results of a study that found “Just One Fifth of CMOs Feel Prepared to Deal With Big Data.” As reported by Al Urbanski in Direct Marketing News, “Nearly 60% of chief marketers in this year’s poll admitted that they’ve fallen short in their usage of advanced analytics to capture customer insight across all touchpoints.” Perish the thought! The study clearly illustrates that despite the annoying buzz sometimes a mosquito needs to bite to get your attention.
The fact is CMOs feeling overwhelmed and challenged by their big data digital initiatives. They’re confused and swatting away at the cloud of vendors and consultants and solutions buzzing around trying to help make big data a usable business asset. Making sense of data is a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. One of the things that can be entertaining (at least thinking about it can be) is to think how many of the people talking about big data are actually using big data.
One of the things about Semcasting is that we do own and use and understand the potential and limitations of big data. We think about data in a fairly sophisticated way and making it actionable in equally interesting ways. For example, a lot of the time “big data” is disparate data associated with cookies. Good, but not great, and even worse when you think about just how current, accurate or interesting that data actually is. Data also has to be usable. Pity the marketer that wants to match their offline customer data with online information. They need to be prepared to wait weeks (if they’re lucky) for that process to be completed and by the time it is what they have is woefully out of date.
We’ve taken a multivariate approach to data, creating profiles of people and businesses that aren’t built on discreet data points cobbled together. Here’s the way we think of an audience: women between 25 and 34 who live in single-family homes and have a household income of more than $75,000. Here’s how many marketers receive an audience: here are women between 25 and 34; here are women who live in single-family homes; here are women with household incomes of more than $75,000.
Notice the difference? Can you imagine how poorly that second audience would perform? If you’re a marketer you probably don’t need to imagine it because it’s what you are living with every day. That’s not big data, that data is a big mess. It’s why so few CMOs feel prepared to deal with big data. It’s a nightmare. Information pours in and dollars flow out, spent – wasted – on campaigns that aren’t ever going to be able to deliver the results people expect because they aren’t based on the right information.
We’re still in the very earliest stages of big data and many of the claims and promises being made are way ahead of the ability to deliver. It’s tough when the hype cycle has so far outpaced the innovation cycle that people are dousing themselves in DEET to keep the pests at bay.