As I sit down and reflect on 2012, there are so many things to be excited about in our industry heading into 2013. The industry continues to rapidly evolve and 2012 proved to be a year full of niche new technologies and datasets that helped clients really begin to understand the multi-channel landscape of their business. Customer touch points are increasing exponentially and the challenge to understand, control, and predict those interactions has become the primary focal point for our clients.
That being said, there is one thing I’d like to remove from our vocabulary heading into 2013: “Big Data.” I’ve had a similar negative reaction in the past with other industry terms such as “Engagement.” The vagueness of these terms has more of a tendency to hurt than help. I’ve seen a lot of organizations get hung up on trying to define a vague term like this for their business instead of focusing on more high-value areas. As a result, these same organizations tend to mature more slowly than those that avoid pitfalls like this.
Probably the most amusing point to make note of is that “big data” is really no different from the data your organization is currently collecting and has been collecting for years well prior to the inception of web analytics. Is there more data available to organizations now? Yes, of course. However, your Technology team has been building, managing, and maintaining “big data” warehouses in house or in hosted environments for years.
The main reason I wanted to call attention to this is to simply stop you from making a significant investment in “big data” for 2013. Budgets are tight, and I can guarantee you that there are wiser investments that will generate more value for your business. It’s not about “big data,” it’s about the “right data.” And ultimately getting that “right data” to the right people at the right time so they can make the decisions necessary to get the quick wins.
I’ve seen several consulting firms attempt to sell gigantic “big data” projects that will take at least a year to complete and making that the primary focus. That causes a major “time to value” problem for organizations thanks to the long runway for a project of this size and stature. This cannot be your only focus in 2013, as it will cause you to miss out on a lot of quick wins.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be integrating your datasets to help you better analyze and ultimately improve the customer interactions with your business. Integrations are key to your success in 2013. I’m just simply saying that you should give some strategic thought to how to approach this and ultimately take a phased approach with the data that is important to your business. Don’t integrate everything, integrate the right things.
So, as you move into 2013, take a moment to reflect on which data is most important for your business and use that as your guide to generate a list of tactics. Don’t think about it as “big data,” but rather the “right data.” Integrations are critical for you this year, and the resulting datasets will be the linchpin for your ability to understand, control, and predict the various customer touch points in your multi-channel landscape.
Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.