As we say farewell to 2012, one topic that got a lot of "airtime" in 2012 will surely stay on top of many marketers minds as we enter 2013: Big Data.
The title of my article is a paraphrase of sorts as it comes directly from a study done by IDC which revealed, among other things that in "2012, 23% of the digital universe would be useful for Big Data if tagged and analyzed. However, currently only 3% of the potentially useful data is tagged, and even less is analyzed."
The "even less" part comes out to less than 1%, 0.5% to be precise.
Now obviously all the data that's being generated - the "IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020, an amount that exceeds previous forecasts by 5 ZBs, resulting in a 50-fold growth from the beginning of 2010" - is not all related to advertising, marketing, branding, social media and all that good stuff.
And while I don't know the exact amount of data that is applicable to those who live and breathe in the aforementioned industries and mediums, you can bet your next brand essence statement that a significant portion of does apply to "our world."
So Why Such A Huge Gap?
Well in an article I wrote back in early October entitled Marketers Continue To Struggle With Big Data, I made reference to some findings of a study done by CEB of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies which revealed:
- On average only 11% of the decisions marketers make when it comes to consumers is based on data
- Over 50% of the marketers surveyed said they rely on past experienced and/or their intuition to make decisions
- In a list of what they rely on to make decisions, marketers listed data dead last after engaging with their co-workers, seeking expert advice and data last on their list - trailing conversations with managers and colleagues, expert advice and one-off customer interactions.
So perhaps the 0.5% is indicative of marketers relying on their own past experiences and plain old fashioned gut instincts as opposed to the actual data that is more than readily available. The aforementioned article touched on the importance of using one's gut instincts and as Christa Carone, the CMO of Xerox, told me back in October, there absolutely is compromise to be had
"I wouldn't want to give up the data that helps us make fact-based decisions quickly. But I fear that marketers' access to and obsession with measuring everything takes away from the business of real marketing," she told me. "It's impossible to measure 'squishier' meaningful intangibles, such as human emotion, personal connection and the occasional 'ahhhh' moment. Those things often come with a marketer's intuition, and they deliver big-time. To me, this means trust your gut even while as you're trying to embrace Big Data."
Then There's The Who
No, not the rock group but the who in terms who will manage, oversee and pour over the mounds and mounds of data. That is also a potential reason for the 0.5%.
In a piece I wrote back in February for CMO.com How To Rein In The Riches Of Big Data, Denny Post, the CMO of Red Robin told me they use external vendors to handle their data but outsourcing comes with a price of sorts or trade-off.
"We rely on outside suppliers with the technological capability and analytical know-how to provide guidance in a short enough time frame to act in a meaningful way. We all keep outsourcers in business, but are we giving up a critical, potential point of competitive advantage in the process?"
Lay Down The Law
Another possible reason for the low use of big data has to do with possible legal ramifications. In a piece I did back in January entitled Why CMOs Need To Get Real About The Policy Implications Of Big Data, I spoke with Scott Vernick, a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP in Philadelphia, who has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies advising them on issues related to cyber security, privacy and data breaches.
According to Vernick far too many companies are simply unaware of how to handle big data from a legal standpoint telling me he is "never cease to be amazed at how many businesses don't know what their organizations are doing what it comes to cyber security and data protection."
What Are You Doing About Big Data?
So what is your company, your brand doing, if anything, when it comes to big data?
Are you among the 0.5% who are actually analyzing and using the data?
Are there legal, manpower and other issues preventing you from tapping into the supposed gold mine of data?
And finally, I want to wish everyone a fantastic and prosperous new year!
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions.