What Big Data Means for Marketers

October 10, 2012 Aaliyah Madadi


Consider the following fact: every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. It’s easy to get lost in our personal social media universes and to forget about the millions of people outside of our own followers, mentions, likes, and comments; however, every second a sea of data about what people are thinking, wanting, needing, and hoping is revealed in the form of blog posts, comments, tweets, social shares, articles, and more. Imagine the powerful insights that companies can yield by extracting, analyzing, and implementing the real-time needs and wants of consumers.

Big data encompasses the holistic picture of online data usage. It is a new space and companies, such as Splunk, are making headway in their quest of managing enterprise data. While the thought of sifting through petabytes of information can be overwhelming, finding the right data can be a goldmine for your brand. Consider the following facts:

  • More than 3 exabytes of new data are created everyday – an exabyte is a unit of information equal to one quintillion (1018) bytes, or one billion gigabytes
  • 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years
  • The global internet population represents 2.1 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population

Clearly, big data is simply too big to ignore. Here’s the rundown on big data and why marketers should pay attention to this phenomenon.

Triple V Titan: What is Big Data?

Big data is defined by 3 elements: volume, variety, and velocity. For data to be defined as big data, experts state that the volume of information must be at least a petabyte in size (a petabyte is equal to 1000 terabytes). Data comes from everywhere, ranging from social media sites to cell phone GPS signals.

Variety refers to the different data and file types that need to be analyzed and managed. The variety of data types is very diverse and includes a multitude of mediums, such as sounds, movies, geolocation data, and text strings.

Velocity is the rate of change in data. Due to the sheer volume of information, big data must be analyzed and managed quickly in order to create real value for a company or individual. We’ve all experienced how rapidly technology changes so imagine how easy it is to overlook important information when sifting through petabytes of data. To make big data count, it’s imperative to discover, extract, and act upon relevant information quickly – before it becomes old news.

Making sense of the masses

Understandably, big data appears quite overwhelming at first glance. However, this data provides an opportunity to delve deeper into understanding your customers and to gain insight that can make your business more adaptive to changing preferences, information, and competition. Experts suggest that the goal of big data analysis must be to obtain actionable insight rather than trying to make sense of every piece of information. Kurt Kendall from McKinsey explains that big data surfaces a new dimension of information that can be used to better understand customer trends and segmentation. In your big data investigation, you can almost think of yourself as a pirate on a treasure hunt – there may be lots of misleading information and sometimes you may feel lost or overwhelmed, but finding the goldmine data provides insight to valuable information that will bring you closer to your customers and give you an edge over competitors.

About the Author

After graduating from the HBA program at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Aaliyah launched her career as Marketing Coordinator at Uberflip! Prior to her HBA, Aaliyah also completed a Bachelor in English at Western University.

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