October 2, 2016
Overwhelmed by Big Data?
While I was out surfing recently in San Diego, I started to think about “Big Data” (I mean, who doesn’t think that while surfing?). As a disclaimer, I do not like using trendy terms such as “Big Data” but sometimes it’s appropriate.
Waves of Big Data
On the beach, the waves were fairly big to someone who is more familiar with New England, and they just kept coming. Wave after wave after wave. They never stopped, and each one was just as powerful and big as the last. It was almost overwhelming to someone who doesn’t surf on a regular basis. Surfing the big waves requires experience and knowledge.
In the same way, Big Data can be an overwhelming force that just doesn’t stop. Every day you have waves of data coming in. Each wave is just as big or bigger than the last. Data waves comes from email, social media, offline, app stores, shopping engines, testing, personalization, beacons, apps and many, many more. If you or your company is not setup for dealing with the massive incoming waves of data, then you will drown in it. Without experience or knowledge, (or a large team) Big Data can not only be ineffective, it can be dangerous. Ineffective because too much data can result in a lot of superficial and interesting finds, but not real, actionable data that creates revenue. Dangerous because acting on data that looks good, but is wrong, could result in bad decisions and drops in revenue.
This is why data driven companies have teams of people on staff. Data scientists and analysts with knowledge of statistics and mathematics. You can’t deal with large waves of data coming in daily, or multiple times per day, if you don’t have the resources.
So now what? What if you don’t have those resources?
My advice? Don’t worry about it. If you don’t have the staff to parse through these massive amounts of data, then don’t. You have plenty of ocean available to you right now in your analytics platform, you don’t need to go out and catch the big waves. There is so much potential gold to be mined from analytics platforms, but most companies don’t take advantage of it. They tend to use their analytics platform to get basic information, and then feel they are missing out on Big Data. You aren’t.
Invest in Analysts rather than Big Data
Since the beginning of marketing online, people have been looking for the silver bullet. They’ve been looking for the one shiny object that will bring success without the work. But that doesn’t work. Educated people are the silver bullet.
Invest in your analysts before you invest in Big Data. The more knowledgeable they are, the more insights you will find even in the most basic analytics data. Let them play in the surf before venturing out to the big waves. Then when they, and the company is ready, train them to surf the bigger data waves. If you do that, then surfing Big Data will be much more rewarding, and result in much more revenue.