Making Sense of Big Data, Part One: Drinking from the Firehose

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Making Sense of Big Data, Part One: Drinking from the Firehose

Rob Norris / VP Sales and Marketing | January 3, 2013

BigData: FireHydrant

We all see the term Big Data in the business press and in big-picture presentations from respected colleagues. The term is used to describe how successful businesses are using vast, yet granular troves of information to make decisions, particularly in sales and marketing. 

It works for your business. Big Data - well sourced, gathered and analyzed - helps organizations discover new growth hot spots through defining micro-markets and determining growth potential, then use these findings to distribute sales and marketing resources.

Big Data is a tool, but it's also an organizational mindset. Companies who embrace the Big Data mindset reap the rewards, but also run the risk of becoming excessively addicted to large amounts of information. Many times, we begin to project information overload to their customers. 

While the intent is good, what we are really doing is adding to the customer's pile of information to sift.  We can't feed them with the proverbial firehose.  We've got to use Big Data to make the message to our customers simpler. Truer and more profound than ever, yet simpler.

Each of us is exposed to more than 100,000 words a day. We love our always-connected gadgets, but they are shortening our attention spans into small, less effective blocks as we try to digest this deluge. Every 60 seconds the world sends another 168 million e-mails.

We are all being swallowed up by the constant information being pushed across the wireless spectrum. And it is only getting harder to keep up. 

  • According to IBM, 90 percent of the world's data was created in the last two years.
  • EMC claims  data will grow 50-fold over the next 10 years.

So how are people making sense of it all? They are taking away the detritus and embracing things that focus on ease of use. They are leveraging the tools available to filter and receive only what they need - when they need it.

But, again, the real secret for those of us who create information and information products, is to start making our Big Data easier to access.

Here's how we're doing this at EDA: We're working to make our own customer interactions understandable - even if it makes things harder for us to service or support. The process engineering inside our company is focused on how to make things easier for our customers.

Companies who have been success at taming and focusing Big Data are reaping the ultimate reward of customer loyalty. Amazon is a shining example with their one-click ordering. That feature was expensive for them - yet it makes them the preferred vendor for its customers.

Every business is complex, but you don't need to make your goods or services complex. Just because you can put it all together in a huge mashup doesn't mean it makes it easier to understand. Today, we all have access to more information than we can use. Make sure you deliver the type of information that prospects and customers find valuable. 

Simplify the way customers interact with your business and you start to break through the growing clutter in their digital lives. In the words of the great Guy Kawasaki, "Start to make meaning."

Big Data is powerful. Use it, and use it well, but don't let it add to your customer's information burden. 

There's more to come from me on the "using it well" part of the equation. Stay tuned.

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