The concept of “Big Data,” known to IT folks for a few years now, has found its way to marketing “meme-ville.” It will likely finish 2012 as one of the “top five marketing issues.”
McKinsey made hay with some appropriately massive Big Data white papers in 2011, emphasizing the ways marketers could harness it. First, McKinsey’s definition:
“Big data refers to datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze.”
The overly long trail runs cold, however, due to McKinsey’s inability to get into the technology weeds. Instead, lots of mumbo jumbo like this:
“McDonald’s…has equipped some stores with devices that gather operational data as they track customer interactions, traffic in stores, and ordering patterns. Researchers can model the impact of variations in menus, restaurant designs, and training, among other things, on productivity and sales.”
What “researchers” is McKinsey referring to? McDonald’s has two restaurant designs – what variations are feasible to test? Who has ever tied cause and effect between “training” and “sales”? What “other things”?
The IT guys are no better. Here is IBM, defining Big Data “velocity”:
“…big data must be used as it is streaming in to the enterprise in order to maximize its value to the business.”
LMAO. Most marketers can’t even tell you how many website visitors they had yesterday.
The requisite surveys are now underway, to see how prepared marketers are for this brave new world. According to a study done in February by Columbia Business School and the New York AMA (Marketing, not Medical), the biggest challenge to success with Big Data is “lack of data sharing across the organization.”
Perfecto, for the guys like IBM. “If we can just fix the technology…”
Database marketing, a practice unknown to most marketers, is nearly 25 years old. It started with a problem to solve – how to make marketing slightly more efficient and vastly more effective? A problem looking for a data solution. A workhouse still in existence.
Big Data, however, reverses the equation. We have embarked on a years-long journey, throwing good money after bad.