The Big Data Opportunity for Marketing

With CMOs predicted to spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017, is big data the next big marketing opportunity? I believe so. While the definition of big data within this context is still being defined, it’s more useful (for now) to focus on its potential utility.

2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created each day, much of it across social, mobile and the cloud - there's a tremendous opportunity to harness this data and use it to establish more meaningful relationships with prospective and existing clients. It’s hugely exciting and has massive potential for business as Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry points out, “Whoever unlocks the reams of data and uses it strategically will win.”

Although, it’s easy to get swept away among the waves of optimism, the truth is many are grappling with turning big data talk into a reality. McKinsey accurately assess the challenge for organisations as, “They find themselves faced with overwhelming amounts of data and organisational complexity, rapidly changing customer behaviors, and increased competitive pressures.”

But the fact remains: big data has much potential and here are some areas where it can deliver value by making SaaS marketing more:

1. Predictive
By crunching masses of data from various sources such as CRMs, customer insights and web analytics, marketing teams will be able to map the flows of information and understand more clearly the potential impact of marketing activity. This information will let CMOs pick more wins, with more accuracy, more often. Predictive analytics has the potential to let organisations gain a much deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and what tactics will produce the best results.

2. Personalised
Mass personalisation has historically been difficult to accomplish, but big data promises to change that. Take a look at the Amazon, eBay or Netflix for a glimpse into the future. Their recommendation engines find links between products and people to provide a truly unique experience. It’s where big data, technology and content combine. The battle for attention is no longer confined to creation and publication, but serving the right content, at precisely the right moment on the right device.

3. Automated
Business will increasingly automate marketing activity based on a person’s interactions with them. This goes much beyond website visits and will include touch points across CRM systems, email, social, mobile, offline and more. It will enable marketing teams to establish the all-important single customer view, with leading scoring, nurturing and communication all becoming fully tailored, responsive and automated.

Big data is a huge opportunity, and those organisations which embrace it will be at a distinct advantage both now and in the future. But for businesses to make this a reality they must spend less time talking about big data and more time working out how best to leverage it.