“Big Data’ is poised to become the next buzz meme in digital marketing. And along with it, a new, hybrid discipline that combines data for better marketing ROI.
Now that Facebook’s stock has hit an all-time low (never having “popped” in the first place); and with some pundits calling Zynga a “fad”, the marketers who sell to marketers need the next shiny new object to polish and put into the shop window.
And it may well be “Big Data” with its attendant disciplines.
Certainly Moore’s Law (predicting accurately that we enjoy exponential computer productivity and storage gains every few months) has given us the ability to collect more data in a year than (I postulate) had been gathered in all human history until the year 2000 (in any case some very, very large set of data). And certainly marketers, always squeezed and underfunded, hunger for more and more insight in order to drive better ROI.
But Big Data is what exactly?
It really is a direct descendant of the rather venerable discipline called Business Intelligence, now repositioned for marketers and digital analysts. It represents a convergence of data sources with a presentation layer so that a “single view” of the customer base can be obtained via on line and off-line behavioral databases.
It is becoming somewhat easier these days to deploy the combination of technologies needed to make this work.
Cloud computing, where an almost unthinkable number of motherboards are churning an almost unthinkable amount of data in an almost vanishingly small amount of time, allows almost anyone with a dollar and a dream to tap into prohibitive computing power on a subscription model! The old freezer plan never offered so much meat for so little money.
Second and third generation analytics engines, combined with sophisticated data regularization techniques and ever-swifter visual interfaces are beginning to bring Big Data into the realm of the every-day, rather than the lab-coated confines of think-tanks and black ops.
There’s also the urge for differentiation. Web analytics has become digital analytics which probably has a short shelf life until we all agree that what we are really about is (wait for it): “Convergence Analytics”.
Big Data is the set of information that will power Convergence Analytics. Convergence Analytics tools will pull data from multiple sources (like BI tools) and put them together in marketer-friendly formats. They will be hard to build and easy to use. They will address every slice of the market and each will claim their own differentiator. Much as with digital analytics, the difference will probably be not so much in the claims or even the architecture, but in the interface and the customization services that go along with that.
Big Data and Convergence Analytics will require extensive customization and implementation, even more than digital analytics tools. This is because they draw from disparate sources and must drive insight from a much more complex data landscape.
Just when folks were beginning to think we had this web analytics thing pretty well in hand, along comes Big Data and Convergence Analytics to spoil the party. But they crashed the party with invitations to an even bigger and more raucous party down the block. Soon, you won’t have to be especially acute of hearing to feel the thundering bass from the dance floor of that shindig.