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Acting upon insights: marketers and big data analytics

Marketing has been slow out of the blocks, compared to other professions, when it comes to adopting analytics technology that relies on big data. There have been a host of recent studies, including a July 2013 report from Duke University that have essentially said the same thing about the relationship between marketing and big data analytics. While there’s a definite consensus among marketers that big data analytics is a practice which they should, and largely plan to adopt, there are still relatively few marketing teams that have a big data analytics process in place.

As a Chief Marketing Officer, I certainly echo the general sentiment of my peers in terms of the potential big data analytics possesses for improving organisational insight and gauging the success of campaigns. While I agree that marketing teams are not using analytics as widely as other disciplines as of yet, there has been a definite uptake in usage over even the past 12 months. The proliferation of marketing channels, digital and traditional, poses a twofold challenge for marketers; how to integrate and effectively apply vast amounts of customer data coming through multiple channels, and how to engage customers profitably.

Customer analytics is definitely one of the most prominent use cases from the marketing field. Organisations have used analytics to improve multi-channel marketing campaigns in an attempt to better engage customers profitably across a given channel. With big data analytics, you can more effectively target individual customers based on their interactions, needs and preferences – which results in marketers being able to better focus their budgets on initiatives with a higher probability of success.

Perhaps one of the more compelling cases to demonstrate this phenomenon is Tesco. The retail giant has been using predictive analytics to gain a competitive marketing advantage from as from back as 1995. Tesco granted consulting firm Dunnhumby access to their Clubcard data, to create insights into the shopping behaviour of its customers. Tesco went onto become one of the first companies to recognise the potential in harnessing the vast quantity of customer data they possessed, and using it to better tailor stock orders and organise the timing of sales for a given store location. This approach resulted in significant savings on the bottom line, and enabled the company to pull away from its competitors.


The Tesco example is beginning to manifest across the marketing profession, with marketers increasingly cognisant of the potential competitive advantage that can come with using unique organisational data to drive more informed business decisions – and the associated cost savings that comes with it. While there’s certainly no catch-all analytics solution for marketing, or any profession, for that matter, it is imperative that marketers begin to harness the data they have at their disposal by identifying a series of basic goals or outcomes and slowly, but surely, ramping up an analytics-based approach to achieving them.


About the Author

Jim Bell is Chief Marketing Officer for Jaspersoft, which provides embeddable analytics solutions that power the intelligence inside applications, processes and workflows. He is responsible for all aspects of Jaspersoft’s global marketing efforts, including community growth, customer acquisition, and new market expansion and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing.