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What’s Big Data Really All About?

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What’s Big Data Really All About?
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Big Data is everywhere. Size must matter because I’ve been reading and hearing about Big Data from all corners of the business world. Big Data has become a hot conference property and, like macro-themes before it, there is a lot jostling taking place among analytics and database providers to demonstrate their thought leadership on the topic.

One of the best perspectives I have heard on the subject came via a presentation from Martin Schneider from 451 Research. His presentation given at the Badgeville Summit last week can be found here. Though the slides don’t do the message justice, you can get an idea that Schneider distilled the hefty concept into its usable parts and successfully demystified Big Data for the conference delegates.

With everyone talking and writing about Big Data, it begs for someone to hit the pause button, define the subject, and identify the value for business. This is not a new subject. After all, we’ve been collecting data for 32 years of loyalty program creation, we  just haven’t done nearly enough with what we’ve collected. During this course of time, CRM has come and nearly gone, then was revitalized by calling it Social CRM. Like Coca-Cola, everything goes better with “Social”.

It is possible that the entire conversation about Big Data will boil down to another evolution of CRM. In Loyalty Truth this week, contributing author Gary Frederick wrote;  “Basically, big data is the combination of all customer data, including all known demographic, transactional, and behavioral information, plus all contact information from all channels (i.e. social, email, previous calls), to provide the most informed, customized, and satisfying customer relationship”.

Doesn’t this echo early definitions of CRM, less the creation of the interface to bring this all-encompassing data view of the customer to the front lines of business to improve service and increase sales? In business as in life, we recycle so much these days, repackaging as if people have short memories. Wait a minute, we do have short memories, otherwise Anthony Weiner would not have tried to run for reelection.

In further conversation with Gary, he added this opinion about the intersection of CRM and Big Data: “CRM should bring together the relationship, regardless of channel and source of data, and treat the customer as a singular entity. Big data has always been the point.  In my opinion, it is now just being called Big Data because of the ability of disparate systems to now be linked.”

A good friend recently shared this quote from Oscar Wilde – “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation”

Thinking about what we can and shoud make out of Big Data, we can lean on Mr. Wilde’s thought for inspiration. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not bashing the concept of Big Data, or discouraging us from talking about it. After all, I have been telling people in my own work that one of the “3 unfulfilled promises of Loyalty Marketing” is underutilized data.

I am believing that the people you have helping your brand create customer loyalty should be the ones who recognize that Big Data is important, but not a new concept. Now is a good time to decide what Big Data means for your organization, then shelve that point-of-view and get to the business at hand – putting Big Data to use to make a difference to your customers.

Let me know your thoughts…..

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