Is Big Data A Big Problem Or A Big Solution?

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Have you ever tried googling the term ‘Big Data‘? There is a BIG amount of data telling you what the big deal about Big Data is! The question is how much of Big Data do we really know?  And how much this Big Data really knows us?

Big_data_cartoon_t_gregoriusSo where does all this data come from? And how did it become SO big? In this day and age where our every move is tracked, the amount of data on every individual profile just keeps building.

where-does-big-data-come-from-2Marketers want to use every available source at hand to get any data possible for their customers. And although there are mixed opinions as to whether this Big Data is an opportunity or an obstacle, one thing is crystal clear in that every marketer is thinking about it! Around 18 billion dollars are spent on it in a year and the spend is predicted to grow exponentially. At this point we all are wondering, why this fuss over Big Data? If you ask the brands that are doing a good job of all this data mining, they seem to think of it as a high impact, low cost difference maker.

What is this Big Data used for? Well if used correctly, it allows marketers to increase targeting precision and improve relevance of their messaging. In this digital era, where we are bombarded with all sorts of targeted messaging, anywhere between 250 to 3000 per day, the relevancy of the message in real-time couldn’t be of higher importance. And hence nowadays, marketers seem to turn to Big Data as an answer for everything!

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In this large wealth of data available to us, it is important to keep in mind these 4Vs being, volume, velocity, variety and veracity.  There is qualitative and quantitative data collected from a variety of sources at an extremely fast pace and this in turn can increase the uncertainty of the precision of the data available. All things automated makes problem-solving easier and faster, but marketers often forget that data without accurate analyses is simply useless information. It’s true there are many models to analyze this data, but this still needs a human element to formulate and test the hypotheses of the research. Otherwise, piles and piles of data can inundate the largest of organizations. And this today, is the biggest challenge faced by marketers with respect to this Big Data. It has become an evil that cannot be ignored!

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The task now is in the decision making of when and how to use Big Data? Can we trust it’s accuracy? How much of it is enough?

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One has to be very careful in the collection and documentation of vast amounts of data as anything relying on technology is always susceptible to the smallest of errors. Basing your answers to every problem on Big Data can prove to be quite hazardous. Take Pinterest’s awkward moment when they sent out personalized messages to their users who had pinned a lot of wedding things to congratulate them on their upcoming wedding! Big data available, collected and used for targeting. What was wrong then you ask? These women were not getting married! This is a classic example of relying completely on Big Data to make any future marketing decisions. And there are many more such examples, take Target who figured out a girl was pregnant before her father did! Not only is this Big Data use gone wrong, but it also raises the bigger questions of privacy and security.

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And so even when we have all this data at our disposal, Big Data poses new challenges for using it everyday! There is a proliferation of sources for collecting data, although the complexity of it increases with direct proportion.

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Then again, what is out there is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole 56.5% of Big Data hidden in the dark social, and that till date is the more effective form of influence.

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So here I come to the conclusion that Big Data will keep getting bigger, the spend of it will keep increasing, the sources to get it will keep growing, and the information collected will keep exploding. This arena of data mining and the Big Data landscape is almost comparable to a war zone, where the fight for the right amount of information, at the right time, the right place, for the right person, continues between marketers who are still tying to find a little room in this Big Data!

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