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Turning Big Data into Smart Data

It’s been over two years since the term ‘big data’ was first coined, but only 12% of organisations are executing a big data strategy, according to SAS and SourceMedia. Despite organisations having vast amounts of invaluable data at their fingertips, it’s clear that a huge majority are not making the most of it, probably due to the sheer size and unstructured nature of this information.

With the volume of information in the world doubling every two years, it’s apparent that the sheer amount of data is a huge headache for marketers. With data set to get even bigger during 2013, due to the growth of smartphones and social networking sites, getting value out of this data in a time and cost efficient way, is the £64,000 question.

Some sectors, such as retail have embraced the opportunities that big data presents by exploiting insight gained from loyalty cards, which track consumer movements and provide bespoke, promotional offers. They’ve integrated data management systems and invested time analysing this data to drive better offers for their customers.

Whilst retail giants lead the big data pack, other sectors are struggling to realise the opportunities that big data presents. The public sector and third sectors are good examples of this. Late last year, Public Accounts Committee member, Margaret Hodgson claimed that the government needed to use big data more in its key decision making. This could include using research techniques to mine information online that will help them get closer to the community’s needs.

But big data doesn’t need to be a big problem. To turn it into an opportunity, marketers need to work more closely with the IT teams to understand how to access information. In turn, IT teams need to make this data more readily available across the organisation.

By introducing unified standards and formats, as well as deploying an interface that enables data analysts to assess, visualise and consume big data across the organisation, it will be much more accessible to marketing. By accelerating big data analytics, through their IT teams, marketers will be also able to identify trends and spot opportunities.

There are already a wide choice of tools and techniques available to help marketers solve the big data headache, from vendor offerings to free open source options, such as Hadoop, but before marketing can exploit the benefits, they must develop a strategy to turn big data into smart data, not dark data.