Swept away on the big data wave

Richard Madden’s article last week on ‘big data’ made some good points but it illustrated how much confusion there is over the definition of big data.

data map
data map

Big data isn’t just about size. It isn’t even solely about new data sources. And much as it is wonderful to focus on data when it has rarely been deemed ‘sexy’ enough to merit this kind of attention previously, it is important that we don’t jump on a bandwagon and confuse the wider world.

If you have an issue with data that is purely to do with its volume, you don’t have a big data problem. Your resident data team probably has years of experience in turning data of all sizes into actionable business intelligence so use them. After all, it’s not the size of your data that matters; it’s what you do with it that counts.

True, big data is unstructured as well as large, moves faster than traditional data and can’t be processed by conventional systems. It’s also incredibly rare that we need to use this data when real examples of it include web page content, telematics data from cars and banking transactions.

It would be wonderful to maintain the current fascination in data that has been missing for so long while fixing this ‘big’ confusion, but it may not be possible. As a data practitioner, I’d prefer to sacrifice the PR spotlight for the truth and accuracy that admits that Richard’s article was brilliant, but it was about data, not ‘big data’.

Anna Foster, data director, TMW

End the data-creative tug of war

The big data debate can feel like an excuse for data specialists to grab some limelight from their creative counterparts, and we should certainly beware of getting carried away on the data wave.

While Sir John Hegarty makes a number of valid points, his disdain for data is beginning to feel like sour grapes. We need to end this pointless ‘them and us’ tug of war, celebrate our differences, and work to get the best out of each other.

Discord between data and creativity is a dead end; only by bringing them together will we create a true catalyst for change.

Jane Hodson, managing partner, M&C Saatchi Milk

Social media is over-hyped but it is an invaluable tool

I couldn’t agree more that social media is over-hyped, with only 3 per cent of brand mentions. However, before we give up on it, remember that social media gives us an unprecedented means to explore people’s attitudes to our brands and products, in real time, on affordable budgets and with a decent sample size. There’s a considerable amount of valuable data available to brands by using social media.

Social media listening is a great way to qualitatively and quantitatively explore audience opinions. It’s an inexpensive approach from where we can form hypotheses that can then be tested through experimentation and controlled research.

I’ve been told that O2 CEO Ronan Dunne checks his Twitter mentions every night. He says that “it feels like walking on the shop floor with his customers”. He might not make decisions on product diversification on a few tweets, but surely the insights he gains from them helps him and his company stay in check.

Xavi Izaguirre, social media director, Total Media

We have more counting on Team England than goals

World cup
World cup

As the road to Brazil stretches ahead and brands such as Adidas are ‘finalising sponsorship plans for next year’s World Cup’, we should not underestimate how important it is for the marketing community that England qualify for the World Cup.

Let’s be clear. I like football, have played it a bit in my time, and am the proud owner of a Man City season ticket, but the fortunes of the England team simply are of no consequence to me personally.

Professionally, however, it is a different matter. If England fail to reach the World Cup, it will be a major blow for all of us in the marketing industry. No promotional football giveaways, few beer promotions for people stocking up for the game, no short-term large screen TV promotions to drive sales for the tournament; and no special advertising to get us to buy these special offers.

So, c’mon England, pull your finger out.

David Pearson

Look good and walk tall

The Secret Marketer touches on a fundamental of business in the article about office decor emulating the brand essence. Often companies forget the importance of this as well as a good looking logo/brand image. Such things are as crucial in the business mix as product, price, service etc.

A good image and brand essence will not only make the employees walk tall, the customers will as well. After all, we all like to look good.

David Brown, Silverkettle

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