Big Data for Consumer Insights: why should you care.
We are hearing and reading about “Big Data” more and more. Big Data in a nutshell means gathering and processing massive sets of data. Unlike Finance or Sales which have been technology-centric for a while now, Marketing has just been using technology to streamline processes, like campaigns, instead of exploiting the high value of real-time consumer data. But this is changing right now, as you read, and this new empowered marketing insights will shuffle the whole Marketing game all over again.
Now that the web is a solid business channel and even the online and offline worlds are beginning to intermix, business analytics are creating massive datasets, in the order of Petabytes (millions of gigabytes) or even more. This amount of information requires both enough processing power and tools to be exploited properly. What use does recording every action a potential shopper does if we can’t extract meaningful and actionable data from it? How do we turn the daily actions of millions of customers into marketing insight?
In the after-mainframe era, Google has taught us that no machine is big or reliable enough to scale and process an ever growing amount of information 24×7, so they went the other way: they used thousands of cheap computers and disks and through distributing and replicating, made them reliable and efficient as a whole. Facebook did the same thing.
This is where Hadoop and the Cloud enter the scene. Hadoop is an open source Apache project that gets Google’s magic at everyone’s fingertips. It allows getting thousands of cheap computers and turning them into a cluster for storing and processing these massive amounts of data for data mining and business intelligence. On the other hand, the Cloud (e.g.: Amazon Elastic Cloud, Windows Azure) allows companies to just use hardware and resources on demand, scaling alongside their business and reducing expensive hardware previsions to zero. Just use what you need, with no limits, and pay as you use it.
New jobs like “Data Scientist” and new business models are spawning into this brave new world of data. Companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook that exploit their data to make cents at a time are transforming into the norm, not the exception.
All of these tools have made products like Shopperception possible, gathering real-life consumer interactions with retailer shelves around the globe, and transforming them into powerful insights.
The tools are here. The time is now. Big Data has arrived to stay, and the whole world is watching, attentive.