I remember the first time I peered into the technology abyss and saw the trough of disillusionment coming at me like a rogue wave in the middle of the Northern Sea. It was 1996, the technology was push media, the darling was PointCast, and the application was a screen saver. The hype of push media never really achieved enlightenment; rather it ended in a crater next to the tombstone of thin computing and achieved the mindshare of the Apple III. Push media was going to fundamentally change the relationship between companies and their customers, and the parallels with Big Data are sobering.
Will Big Data survive the trough of disillusionment? Big Data is mostly a marketing term for technologies that enable us to tackle data at significantly larger volume, velocity and variety. Like Pointcast’s push, it’s simply a technique masquerading as a business value prop. What will make “Big Data” thrive is not to treat it as an end unto itself, but rather as the enabler for better decisions and more nuanced marketing campaigns.
So what should Big Data be enabling? Big Data can be transformative in enabling the same thing that businesses always struggle with. Understanding customers takes a complete view of the customer. This context requires volume (a complete history) and variety (many different data sources), aspects of Big Data. Big Marketing (using Big Data in marketing) strategies must be dialogue-oriented in nature. The days of simply screaming at your customers every 30 days is over. This also requires more historical information and higher velocity than ever before.
These are just the starting points.
Few companies in the world would build a marketing strategy on acquiring a customer once, selling a single product, and then losing the customer forever. It’s useless to make a decision once and then not improve continuously with the same customer. Big Data must be married with the science of making decisions. Define metrics that are around customer engagement and then measure strategies via Test & Learn, multivariate testing and A/B testing. Don’t just measure a single decision at a single point; measure against the entire lifecycle of a customer, from acquisition to possible attrition.
Here is my five step plan for Big Marketing that I will discuss at FICO World:
- Step 1: Admit the that you have a problem
- Step 2: Recognize that Big Data can help drive relevancy
- Step 3: Realize that Big Data can provide a dialogue approach
- Step 4: Apply the science of decisions to continuously produce value
- Step 5: Evangelize and push solutions out – don’t go back
Big Data is only going to skip the fate of push media if it does what push media never did --fundamentally transform how companies understand their customers. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more, please join me for my FICO World session titled “A Five Step Plan for Big Marketing.”