Advances in technology have allowed companies to collect, store and process massive quantities of data on their consumer base, resulting in increasingly sophisticated understanding of what appeals to potential customers.
Marketers are quickly discovering that the recent surplus of data is allowing for increasingly individualised brand marketing and an ability to understand consumer desires on a psychological level. For online startups to some of the world’s largest corporations, big data is increasingly seeming like the future of lucrative marketing.
While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have exploded in popularity over the past few years, many in business have been confounded at how any of these sites can actually utilise their global reach to make money, with many finding the sheer quantity of information overwhelming.
“The ecommerce industry has become distracted by endless analysis of traffic numbers with limited segmentations, says Maya Moufarek, chief marketing officer for technology company QuBit, “a sort of analysis paralysis”.
However, research suggests that data-guided management is quickly proving lucrative. Studies by MIT economist firstname.lastname@example.org have found that among 179 studied companies, those adopting “data-driven decision making” achieved increases in productivity of 5% to 6%.
Online sites like Amazon have been leading the field in recent years by using collaborative filtering technology to develop automatic recommendations for customers based on their purchase history data.
In 2011, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, research arm of the consulting firm, projected that the US would need 140 000 to 190 000 more workers with “deep analytical” expertise, as well as 1.5 million more data-literate managers.
“Cheap processing power, ubiquitous network access, mobile computing, and the democratisation of the tools of self-expression have given almost everyone the ability to share their thoughts and ideas for free, worldwide,” says Jeff Dachis of the Social Business management firm The Dachis Group.
Research from companies like The Dachis Group has illustrated how big data analytics have been able to take the information that users voluntarily disclose about themselves on various social media platforms and identify, measure and manager what behaviors are impacting awareness and public mindset on various brands.
Today, some of the world’s largest and most influential companies are finding innovative and lucrative uses for data collection and analysis. Ford Motor Company recently partnered with Microsoft to develop SYNC, and in-car communications system that allows drivers to control mobile phones and digital music players without taking their hands off the wheel.
However, SYNC can also be used to monitor and collect data on vital vehicle functions, data that Ford then aggregates from remote application management software in millions of vehicles, allowing engineers to glean information on issues from quality and safety to fuel economy and vehicle emissions.
Aggregation of data on individual consumers is expected to only become more expansive in the coming years, with more private information likely being shared among the growing number of social media outlets. As the technology and skill level of the data interpreters becomes more sophisticated, it is likely that we are still at the frontier of big data’s influence on business.
As the nature of industry and commerce evolves, the big data analysis will allows marketers to find new ways of selling products that satisfy consumer urges for years to come.
Samantha Porter is a writer/researcher for an online resource looking at the field of marketing and marketing degrees.