Big Data is big news and many companies are embracing it whole-heartedly. It can provide an organisation with a good idea of whom its customers are and what they want from the services provided. It has promoted the idea of ‘value exchange’ and allowed companies a better means of communicating and understanding its customers.
So how can Big Data be utilised within marketing campaigns?
Infogroup Targeting Solutions recently published a study that revealed that the investment from business into Big Data marketing would increase hugely in 2014. This is due to new initiatives that allow a business to fully embrace the massive amount of data that its customers are relaying. However, the study also found that although the benefits of Big Data are clear, there are many companies that are not making the correct plans for data-related job positions.
According to David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions:
“The survey findings also indicate that marketers are moving from the information-gathering stage to the analytics phase of Big Data adoption. But a downturn in hiring could stall Big Data implementation, as the need for human capital is greatest during the analysis and action stages.”
It seems that marketers already have the information they need and are now looking for the best application of that data through analytics tools. The problem facing most businesses is the implementation of Big Data policies as many are failing to hire the correct staff within this burgeoning sector.
Employ more staff
It’s all well and good collecting Big Data but it’s in the collating, analysis, and action stages that businesses are struggling. A good tactic for businesses looking towards the future would be to employ more staff to handle this huge influx of data. This will allow them to accurately discover the best way to apply the new information provided by customers.
Many participants in the study cited a number of reasons for not adopting Big Data practices at work. Some of the main concerns mentioned were limited budgets to fragmented systems; half of the marketers surveyed however were enthusiastic about the role of Big Data in the marketing industry.
Big Data is big business
The reports found that for a second year in a row more than 60% of companies expect their Big Data marketing budgets to increase. The majority of marketing departments however don’t plan on adding any new employees to their staff. This means that there won’t be enough hands to handle the influx of data in 2014 marking the key problem with Big Data implementation.
There are simply not enough business policies in place, be they employment of new staff or simply increased budgets, to allow for Big Data to make the splash that everyone is expecting. Interestingly enough, many companies stated last year that they were planning to hire for Big Data positions. This hasn’t materialised and it’s frustrating to see an industry so poised for growth being hampered by short minded, profit driven businesses.
McRae further argued that businesses need a huge influx of employees to fully grasp the Big Data potential:
“Big data is meaningless without manpower. While it’s exciting that most companies are making bigger investments in Big Data, marketers should not forget that it takes people to make sense of the information. Hiring before reaching the analytics stage enables companies to become data-led and act on the data.”
The advice is clear: employ more staff before reaching the analytics stage. Back in 2013 most marketers, around 70%, said that they expected data-related spending to increase in the year ahead. The spending spree will continue with close to 62% of marketers predicting that their Big Data budgets will increase.
There is a slight decline of 8% here and although it’s not really that much it reflects the lack of investment in this sector. This number should have gone up hugely since 2013, not down by a fraction, and this decline might be an indication that fewer marketers are budgeting for data solutions.
Why does Big Data matter?
Consumer expectations have never been higher. The mobile app market and the customer-first attitude have fuelled the customer’s desire to be heard and recognised. Marketers and indeed many businesses are coming under heavy pressure to support customer-satisfaction initiatives whilst, at the same time, find a return on investment for marketing spends.
For many marketers the answer lies in gaining a more complete view of the customer. Big Data provides this possibility as it lets marketers slice their consumer base into individual segments, this enables the marketer to better understand, predict, and shape customer buying behaviour.
Marketers see Big Data, coupled with sophisticated mining and analytics tools, as the key to unlocking those consumer capabilities. The application of Big Data within marketing lies in finding a wide range of tools, and of course employees, to finding a use for that data through correlating ads and sales, to audience measurement, to predicting customer behaviour.
Big Data has big potential and it lies squarely in the hands of businesses to implement successful policies to take advantage of this ever-expanding market. A business should consider employing staff to specifically deal with the influx of data that the new value exchange model provides. If businesses fail to employ more staff all of the Big Data that has been collected is a waste and ultimately meaningless.
Whilst there still exists something of a skills gap when it comes to finding the right staff to analyse Big Data, companies should be pulling out all the stops to ensure that they land the best candidates.