Steven Donaldson

BIG DATA – it’s where the real value is for brands

A massive change that’s been going on while we enjoy our  iPads, connect with our smart phones and download data is the explosion of associated data. Behind everything we do are volumes and volumes of data, invisible to the average user. What powers this is all the servers and powerful networks that support the traffic that connects our world from Beijing to Berkeley to Barcelona in an instant. Businesses, governments, even you and me have so much data—how the heck do we keep track of our exploding world? It’s like suddenly having the Library of Congress in your bedroom: what good is it if you can’t even figure out how to find anything?

The comment made to Dustin Hoffman in the movie The Graduate comes to mind. He was a young college grad in the 60’s and a business guy at a party said to him, ” I just want to say one word to you. Just one word…plastics.” At that time, that may have been the next hot thing, but now we’re at the beginning of a new world of Big Data.

According to Wikipedia it’s defined as this:

  • In information technology, big data is a loosely-defined term used to describe data sets so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analysis and visualization.

This world will transform our ability to use knowledge to make better and more informed decisions. In general Big Data means connecting the meaning to the bits and bytes so business, consumers, government, agriculture, marketers and everyone else can gain more real-time knowledge to make decisions.

Knowing what people want

Using analytics, creating new levels of predictability, developing real time forecasting in the industries of crime/security, sales, agriculture, housing, traffic and transportation, online sales, advertising, TV and media, healthcare — did I forget anything? Big Data will touch everybody.

The result will be an almost magical responsive network that delivers a personally relevant online world through smart phones and other devices as you move through the physical world. Buying opportunities, relevant content based on your likes/dislikes, social events and more are already served up, but the volume and sophistication of content and offerings will increase manyfold.

Users will limit their exposure to this endless stream

The challenge for marketers will be how to break through these personal firewalls. The key is delivering what people want, when they want it. A skillful and seamless blending of desired content with marketing messages will be a necessity, since consumers will hold the controls.

What about Big Brother?

Yes, the issue of too much knowledge about you, that’s the fear. I think the jury is out on this. What is the balance between knowing what’s relevant to you now vs. knowing “they” are tracking you?

This has yet to be answered.

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