Big Data and Advanced Analytics – The Key to the ‘Market of One’

The ability to truly conduct one-to-one marketing is something marketing departments have been dreaming of for years.

Big Data is the key to the ability to tailor messaging down to the individual customer level, the whole ‘market of one’ dream we’ve been having for years.

And it has been years. Information warehousing, for instance, was supposed to get us there. It came close, and we learned a lot, but we didn’t realise at that time the level of personalisation that the professional and the consumer would expect.

DataInsights will be deliverable, soon

The great news is that the dream is at last within reach, thanks to high-powered analytics tools coming on-stream. These tools offer ways to analyse trends and anomalies and derive very granular, personalised insights, which means that very soon (if not already, as some sectors such as finance have leaping ahead here) we’ll be able to deliver those insights on a personalised, individualised level.

That means customers will finally receive only relevant, useful messages, offers and outreach: things sent to them because we – as marketers – know that they actually want them.

Enhancing the customer journey

Meanwhile, the benefit to brands with the one-to-one targeted approach will be the power to enhance the whole customer journey – and therefore increase loyalty, boost total lifetime spend and deliver many other positives to the business as well as to the customer.

Five Tips on How to Get Buy-In and Commitment from the Powers That Be in Big Data/One-To-One

1. Get a heavyweight in your corner

An executive sponsor is invaluable to corporate commitment: someone with a compelling vision and understanding of how Big Data-enabled insights can unlock real business potential for the marketing department and your bottom line. This sponsor needn’t be in the marketing department, and an executive champion with an independent viewpoint will be taken more seriously by the Powers that Be, after all. Start thinking now of candidates for this role.

2. Invest in knowledge building

You should make big efforts to develop the right skills for aligning the data with the business. That doesn’t mean hiring statistics quants in order to understand each Big Data insight tool or platform, but instead means steeping yourself in business intelligence and business analytics. Start with a course  or try Analytics at Work by Tom Davenport, Jeanne Harris and Robert Morison.

3. Embrace a community spirit

In this age of analytics, a different approach is required to make BI do its job best. The approach needs to be more creative and inquisitive about both data analysis and problem solving. Immerse yourself in Big Data and become part of the Marketing conversation: LinkedIn has a number of specialist community groups around Big Data analytics & insight, and you should also look at Big Data Meetup for like-minded Big Data enthusiasts.

4. Change the data conversation inside your company

Get everyone talking and thinking about Big Data and its possibilities, by circulating articles and reports to your marketing team and to your management team. Look for articles like this piece that looks at some of the unconventional uses of Big Data and predictive analytics across multiple industries.

5. Good luck – and don’t sell yourself short!

It’s the future and you’re absolutely right to try to get your marketing team there. It won’t always be easy, though. If you hit a brick wall, maybe it could be time to move on. There are plenty of companies out there (Google, Amazon, Netflix) that might welcome a budding data entrepreneur like you on board.

A paradigm shift in the way marketers need to think

With the ‘market of one,’ the possibilities are genuinely exciting. So the problem is not with the objective, it’s in the execution. The execution requires marketing professionals to make a paradigm shift, a shift based on embracing Big Data analytics, and taking a risk or two along the way.

Marketing professionals are going to have to get used to considering the future instead of just analysing what happened during the last quarter – hitherto the only way analytics and business intelligence has been used by marketing. There is no doubt that data content is expanding and diversifying at a startling rate, encompassing a variety of data assets. Nor is there any doubt that all this data needs to be amalgamated, analysed and served back to marketers and customers in a meaningful way. Customers expect it – and amidst the competitive pressures in our globalised, de-regulated world of the 21st century – customers demand it.

In order to mine the right information from the plethora of rich data sources, marketers need to know which questions to ask. These questions need to be very different from the questions asked by earlier waves of marketers using earlier forms of analytics and BI technology. Today, the questions are broader in scope, and iterative.

Find your analytical loop

Marketeers will also need a way to work with data that will make it really simple to access meaningful information to deliver insight and inspire new questions – and soon new ways of working and solutions, a virtuous one-to-one supportive circle. Think of it as an analytical loop: ask the question; the software visualises the data and produces an analysis. This leads to asking another question, which leads to another visualisation – which may lead to a light bulb ‘pop’ of real business insight: ‘Look at that correlation! Just imagine what kind of results we could achieve with a marketing campaign that offered X!’

We are pretty sure that you will agree that the decisive factor in delivering that capability is clever, predictive analytics for marketing team self-service.

Analytic statistics

By that we mean systems that will act as sophisticated, powerful tools for business improvement and planning, and which will allow marketing professionals to work out – (without reliance on IT, please note) – what the impact of a change in a product/service or message will be before it is implemented.

They will also allow marketers to model anything that can happen in the business, e.g. from the impact of changes in resources, to the impact of adding new products and services – even envisioning changing the way a marketing campaign is run to a very granular level.

Predictive analytics software solutions also help marketing managers create marketing and product/service launch plans, as well as empower them to fine-tune the implementation of their brand messages.

Such tools have been needed for some time. It’s Big Data that will finally bring them.

Never underrate dynamic flexibility

Clearly, this is a story about enablement. IT needs to open up the doors to marketing and not withhold the technology. A marketing team member must be able to access relevant, timely insights anytime and anywhere – whether on the office desktop, the family laptop, work tablet or iPhone, Surface, Nexus or any other device.

Even if a massive online data storage and processing infrastructure like Hadoop is part of the picture, the chances are that other contributing sources of content will exist in tandem with it, almost certainly in the form of ‘traditional’ relational databases and document archive formats. All of this rich data legacy must be packaged up to help deliver the framework the company needs to get to ‘market of one’ style marketing.

Remember, we need to do a lot of work to make this straightforward, so that marketing professionals can work with Big Data without the need of a Doctorate in Advanced Statistics and an enormous IT organisation behind them. This goes all the way to the simplest UI issues: dashboards and drill-down facilities can work well on a browser on a PC or laptop – but on the smaller screen of a mobile device, an interface that works with touch and gestures is far more effective and appreciated, for example.

And never forget the basis of Big Data-enabled one-to-one marketing: a visualisation and analytics platform – one that is as dynamic, responsive, flexible and scalable as the chosen data storage and processing infrastructure requires.

It also has to be one that doesn’t need to be pre-programmed, but rather can react to the questions users are asking, in real time, as they view the visualisations. That’s the only way to serve up actionable, valuable, personalised insights our colleagues can run with. After all, without a dynamic visualisation layer and the ability to run predictive models, data is pretty dumb on its own. We need to help give it a voice.

Big Data’s promise is real and becoming real every day. Knowing more about your customers, individually, truly is going to help you serve all of your customers better, both now and in the future. This is the only way to realise the dream of ‘one-to-one.’

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Josep Arroyo

Josep Arroyo

Vice President, Advanced Analytics, Actuate

Josep Arroyo is Vice President, Advanced Analytics at Actuate. Mr. Arroyo’s sixth startup, Quiterian, was acquired by Actuate in 2012. He has served as a CEO and board member in software firms in the U.S. and Europe, and has advised VCs including Citi and Granville-Baird Capital, while winning several awards for innovation and entrepreneurship.

February 24, 2014

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