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How do you define big data? The seven V’s sum it up pretty well – Volume, Velocity, Variety, Variability, Veracity, Visualization, and Value.


Volume is how much data we have – what used to be measured in Gigabytes is now measured in Zettabytes (ZB) or even Yottabytes (YB). The IoT (Internet of Things) is creating exponential growth in data. This infographic from CSC does a great job showing how much the volume of data is projected to change in the coming years.




Velocity is the speed in which data is accessible. I remember the days of nightly batches, now if it’s not real-time it’s usually not fast enough.


Variety describes one of the biggest challenges of big data. It can be unstructured and it can include so many different types of data from XML to video to SMS. Organizing the data in a meaningful way is no simple task, especially when the data itself changes rapidly.


Variability is different from variety. A coffee shop may offer 6 different blends of coffee, but if you get the same blend every day and it tastes different every day, that is variability. The same is true of data, if the meaning is constantly changing it can have a huge impact on your data homogenization.


Veracity is all about making sure the data is accurate, which requires processes to keep the bad data from accumulating in your systems. The simplest example is contacts that enter your marketing automation system with false names and inaccurate contact information. How many times have you seen Mickey Mouse in your database? It’s the classic “garbage in, garbage out” challenge.


Visualization is critical in today’s world. Using charts and graphs to visualize large amounts of complex data is much more effective in conveying meaning than spreadsheets and reports chock-full of numbers and formulas.


Value is the end game. After addressing volume, velocity, variety, variability, veracity, and visualization – which takes a lot of time, effort and resources – you want to be sure your organization is getting value from the data.

Today’s Challenges

Marketers are faced with the challenge of ingesting the big data they have available to them. We all have a great appetite for data, but it’s not always easy to “digest”. Data often resides in various point solutions. There are likely inconsistencies in the data structure that make it difficult to merge the data from various sources. Chances are the data isn’t available real-time.

Once you have the actual data under control, the marketer must make sense of the data and identify actionable insights. Easier said than done. Having a single source of the truth that can process all that data is critical. Visualization allows marketers to quickly highlight patterns and outliers, saving a lot of time and making it easier to share insights with your internal stakeholders.

Here at Impact, we love data! We are constantly thinking of new ways to visualize data so that marketers can focus on taking action instead of crunching the numbers. One of my favorite visualization tools available in our software is what we call the customer journey. It shows the media a customer was exposed to on their path to purchase.


We believe it’s important to be able to drill down to the order level, but equally as important to look at the data at a high level in a dashboard alongside your goals.


If you’re bombarded with data, we’d love to show you what’s possible with a single source of the truth that can allow you to focus more on findings and taking actions rather than processing all that data!

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