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Certain terms get overused and people begin to discount them or have a less than favorable opinion of them. They start out hot, but quickly fall out of favor. I did a quick search and there are dozens of blog posts listing the most overused marketing buzzwords. Here are a few of the most often cited terms for 2014/2015: synergy, infographic, ROI, millennials, native advertising, internet of things, and selfie. Another term that universally made the lists is “Big Data.”

Big Data rose to prominence for digital marketers around 2012, and soon everybody was talking about it. Each year since has been the “year of Big Data.” By now, many marketers are tired of hearing about it. Even though we use it almost every day, we get it. It’s OK to hate the term, but don’t hate the promise it brings to your business and marketing strategies.

If you look up Big Data on Wikipedia you can learn more about it than you probably care to know. However, it does give you a better understanding of how Big Data is changing what we know about…anything and everything. Most interesting to me were the six characteristics of Big Data. They really help you understand the complexities of Big Data and what has to be tamed.

  1. Volume – The quantity of data that is generated is very important. It is the very size of the data that determines its value and potential – this is what determines whether it can actually be considered Big Data or not.
  2. Variety – The next aspect of Big Data is its variety. This means that the category to which Big Data belongs is essential. This helps the people who are closely analyzing the data and are associated with it to effectively use the data to their advantage.
  3. Velocity – The term ‘velocity’ in this context refers to how fast the data is generated and processed to meet the demands and the challenges which lie ahead in the path of growth and development.
  4. Variability – This is a factor that can be problematic for those who analyse the data. Variability refers to the inconsistency data can sometimes reveal, thus hampering the process of being able to handle and manage the data effectively.
  5. Veracity – The quality of the data being captured can greatly vary. Accuracy of analysis depends on the veracity of the source data.
  6. Complexity – Data management can become a very complex process, especially when large volumes of data come from multiple sources. This data needs to be linked, connected and correlated to be able to fully comprehend the information.

So why is Big Data a big deal for marketers? Companies like Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and Google have multiple petabyte-sized databases. Think about that for a second – 1 petabyte is 1 million gigabytes! For comparison purposes, I am writing this on a computer with a 500GB hard drive and 8GB of RAM (and I am only using 156GB). These companies would not make investments in Big Data if it weren’t paying off.

So if Big Data is so big, how can it possibly be useful? Imagine having a petabyte of data dumped onto your desk. What would you do with all it?

Well, first of all there will always be more data available than you’ll care to analyze. The answer, like most things in life is, “all good things in moderation.” So here’s where your next overused phrase helps out – slice and dice. Small bytes (pun intended) of data are easier to analyze and understand. The key is figuring out what to slice and what to dice.

If you start with what you know and peel away the data underneath, you will begin to discover what you don’t know. Once you understand your data, you can figure out which data points you can leverage or affect to improve your results. The role of Big Data is also to help you learn what you don’t know about your data. There are often questions that arise that, without all the relevant data points, can’t be answered. So it is important to have the Big Data at your disposal so you can answer these questions as they come up. The last thing you want to have to tell your stakeholders is, “We don’t capture that data, so we can’t answer the questions.”

Today, you do not need to build your own petabyte-sized databases. There are many companies offering turnkey solutions that can slice and dice your data into meaningful bytes. Access to your Big Data is easier and more affordable than ever. If you would like to learn more about how to leverage your Big  Data, please contact us at Impact Radius for a demo.

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