Big Data and Big Data research got the nod of approval from UK Government earlier this week in the annual Budget, with an estimated £42m being invested in funding the Alan Turing Institute. Paving the way for extensive Big Data and algorithm research, the Institute is a step in the right direction when it comes to our use of Big Data in today’s business world.
It may sound daunting to a lot of us – even the word data brings back childhood nightmares from high school maths classes, studying endless tables of data and putting all of the buttons on a scientific calculator through their paces.
I think it is worth prefacing this blog with a definition of what makes Big Data ‘big’. It all boils down to volume, velocity and variety according to Gartner. If you think you have a lot of data in an Excel spreadsheet, think again. You’re not even close to being on par with Big Data. I think this definition from Microsoft sums it up rather well:
“Big Data describes the process of applying serious computing power to seriously massive and often highly complex sets of information.”
That, combined with Gartner’s 3 Vs, and we are looking at the increasing size of data, the increasing rate at which it is produced and the increasing range of formats this data exists in.
But Big Data doesn’t have to be terrifying. In fact, as it has come to the fore in the past few years, technology has kept up with the growing amount of data we have to hand. Querying databases and statistics no longer takes days, masses of computing power or demands the time of an IT savvy individual to run reports.
Big Data poses a huge opportunity for sales and marketing, mainly due to the unprecedented insights into customer needs and behaviors. While many executives will agree with this, so many struggle to make the most of Big Data.
Software can, and will be, your knight in shining armor when it comes to Big Data. There is absolutely no question about it. Analyzing the amount of data we’re talking about is simply not feasible for any human being that values their sanity and the only way around it is with software designed for this reason.
So here are our 3 top tips for Big Data:
Play to your strengths
Technology can transform data into a graphical format that is easier on the eye than endless rows of data. We all have an innate ability to quickly detect patterns and anomalies when data is presented in a graphical format. Combine that with drill downs and drag-and-drop interfaces and you’ll have a data set that will play to our innate exploratory abilities. We can stare at rows and rows of numbers for hours never really garnering any insight, but put that information into a pretty chart or graph and you’ll be able to spot trends in an instant.
Freedom is key
Allow those making use of data to do so on the fly, while you are safe in the knowledge that it is always secure. Self-service, mobile Business Intelligence (BI) solutions can be the answer you are looking for and can remove the need for IT to get involved in extracting data analysis reports.
A recent report by Aberdeen Group found that “almost half of BI users are able to find the information they need without the help of IT staff, without BI, the rate drops to a mere 23%”. Is it time to give your IT team a break and let a BI system pick up where they left off?
With a sprinkling of marketing fairy dust…
Data is the heart of any good marketing team and promises to enable perfectly targeted messages for a modern, connected customer. The mass of transactional and behavioral data that is available to marketers today is incredible. The more data us marketing bods can get our hands on, the more personal an experience we can provide.
It may take a bit of time to perfect, but a well-kept CRM system can keep marketing in line and the entire company on the same page. As long as everyone is using a customer record management tool to update information, log interactions, data and anything else that may be relevant, marketing can wave their magic wand and new customers will (hopefully!) be queuing up at your door.
Big Data isn’t going away anytime soon, so take a look at sales-i today and see just how easy it can be when you have the right tools.