Clearing the Path to Big Data Initiatives

Big data isn’t just about collecting all your data sources into one place. That’s important, but it’s only part of the whole picture. There’s a difference between a “Big Bunch of Data” and “Big Data.” As marketers today do their best to wrap their arms around the concepts of big data, it’s important to keep a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish so you don’t get stuck in the weeds and delay adoption. (For more advice on getting started, check out my last article on this topic.)

Regardless of where you are regarding your company’s big data initiatives, here are three points to consider as you explore solutions for the adoption of big data in your own organization:

1. Be ready for big. The beauty of big data is about finding relationships between different sets of information. To accomplish that you need to make sure all your data is accessible and actionable across channels and sources. This requires some sort of scalable technology to have a place to store it all moving forward. Data breeds faster than rabbits.

Once you begin collecting and coordinating data from across points of customer interaction, you’ll need a platform to aggregate the information, preferably stored within unique customer profiles. Having real muscle behind your platform is also essential for you to freely run analyses. The value of pulling together your critical data housed in separate systems into a single platform is one thing, but you also need to make sure your system has what it takes to quickly report back to you, especially as the volume of information continues to grow.

2. Time to get messy. Traditional bunches of data are orderly and structured, but things get interesting when you pull unstructured data into the mix. Unstructured data is information that doesn’t neatly fit “inside the box” — i.e., details that aren’t standardized by traditional data intake approaches. Such information can hold high value, however. Examples of unstructured data can include handwritten notes, comments and complaints. The best data management platform or database systems should have a way to create space for unstructured information, tagged appropriately. Be sure you have a system in place to capture and use all your information, even when it doesn’t come in neat and pretty. Sometimes messy is good.

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