It's All About Me

Marketing, much like any other profession, is not without its buzz words—those that permeate our social fabric and come to represent an ideal that is far larger than the sum of its parts. Today, Big Data is by far one of the most famous of these pop-culture terms—but for many, vastly misunderstood, misguided and, most likely, misused.

Marketing as an ecosystem has changed greaty over the past 50 years—and most of that change has come in the past decade. Traditional marketing—which continually plagues most companies—is something I like to refer to as “The Nike Syndrome,” meaning companies continue to believe that through slogan-based advertising and traditional marketing vehicles, results will be the same as they were in previous decades…that, though, is not the case.

With the birth of the new generation of global powerhouse brands—Google, Facebook & Instagram, Twitter, and other social media players—paired with omni-channel capabilities throughout the retail world that connect buying information from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal and more, with instant gratification giants such as eBay, Amazon, Apple, and the global network of online retail shopping—the marketing world no longer has the luxury of a slogan- and advertising-based focus.

Now, Big Data is an integral part of the marketing ecosystem, one that has evolved more quickly than anyone could have imagined. For instance, we all know that the instant gratification push of the early millennium marked a new era in marketing. People who had access to the internet and all that it offered, suddenly began the inward journey to online shopping, making the outside world largely irrelevant. The death of the traditional music industry, moving from physical media to digital download, was the first strike at the heart of what we once knew.

Then came social media paired with what many now truly consider mobile devices—the ability to surf, connect, text, and manage an online presence from virtually anywhere at anytime. The Big Data play was now upon us. The arrival of mobility convinced the world to take part in the largest global deception in history: for people to willingly give all their information to Facebook, the largest customer / prospect database in the world.It is this social phenomenon that spawned the idea that sharing all one’s personal information was not only okay, but also was expected if one was going to be a valuable member of society—after all, it is the “Like” button that defines our self worth…right?

Now, pair that influx of data with the outward ego of all those people who partake in modern social media. The evolution that began only a few years ago, has now changed people’s expectations of marketing. In the past, they would find their interests through magazines, television, radio, events, etc. Then people could search the internet for what they liked. By the early years of the second decade of the millennium, people wanted advertising directed to them—pushed based on their likes, their friends’ likes, and so on.

Persona-based advertising now went far beyond what anyone thought possible: the persona was based on each and every individual person—not just a social archetype.

This brings us to where we sit today within the realm of Big Data. Moving far beyond targeted Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and Amazon’s suggested complementary items, people now connect their lives in the largest data ecosystem ever imagined. From every purchase, to every social media post, to every online search, to every trip taken, Big Data gives us an unprecedented look into every aspect of people’s lives—lives that demand that marketing be “All About Me.” We as a society no longer hide from Big Data, we thrive on it. The level of self-attention that this new world has spawned knows no bounds.The future is now

With the evolution of technology, its inherent business dependency paired with continually increasing societal engagement, it is no surprise that Big Data services and the associated supporting technology market represent an astounding multibillion-dollar worldwide opportunity.

To illustrate where the market is heading, a recent study by International Data Corporation (IDC)—a global provider of market intelligence—forecasted that the Big Data technology and services market will grow at a 26.4% compound annual growth rate to $41.5 billion through 2018. To put this into practical business terms, that is approximately six times the growth rate of the overall information technology market.

Furthermore, the same study showed that by 2020 the concept and usage of traditional analytics will far surpass its current use as it pertains to relational performance management, evolving into double-digit growth rates of realtime intelligence and exploration and discovery of the unstructured worlds.

Where does marketing go from here?

Evolution is an ever-present challenge for marketing. The concept of the traditional marketing department is no longer viable as the roles within a world-class marketing organization have now exploded, bringing about an era of highly skilled professionals who represent a multitude of new job descriptions.Beyond the usual players such as public relations and communications professionals, graphic designers, and logistics personnel, marketing now goes even further than a website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and analytics specialists. Today, companies need a full complement of professionals who can understand and intertwine the above mentioned roles and responsibilities, while continuing to evolve their IT infrastructure to support the needs of marketing and thus the business itself.

This means that businesses as a whole must invest in and support marketing as the new world of business dictates that, regardless of product or service, all companies must become marketing companies to succeed.

By transforming the business infrastructure into a marketing-centric organization, companies will be able to focus on critical factors that will be highly measurable and highly manageable. For instance, here are three critical categories that Big Data enables within a marketing infrastructure:

1. The Customer

Big Data enables companies to not only gain better insight into their target demographics, but it also gives them the ability to manipulate those demographics based on behavioral, attitudinal and transactional metrics from such sources as marketing campaigns, points of sale, websites, customer surveys, social media, online communities, loyalty programs, and more.

2. Business Operations

Though metrics within business operations can sometimes be categorized as “objective,” marketing initiatives can still be measured through established marketing processes that will deliver insight into marketing management and operations, resource allocation, asset management, budgetary controls, etc.

3. Finance

Big Data—to the joy of most CFOs—can represent imperial data from the management of overall business management, projections, etc. Simply put, an organization’s financial infrastructure can easily capture sales metrics, revenue, and profits that lead to better management overall. Managing and embracing these categories also leads to better marketing management overall. Combining Big Data metrics within an enterprise environment immediately translates to increased customer engagement, customer retention, and overall marketing performance.

That said, embracing Big Data is not for the faint of heart, nor is it feasible to simply ask one’s marketing department to implement and manage such a change on its own. Companies need to seek out and partner with reputable organizations that specialize in Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Solutions to fully connect, manage, and understand the associated data and implications. Once achieved, however, companies can enjoy customer engagement and insight never before imagined.

Originally published at

Scott Williams is a senior executive with more than 17 years of experience in corporate and marketing communications. Throughout his career he has worked with a multitude of industries representing hundreds of companies—from developing and managing corporate communications strategies for the largest of Fortune 50 companies, to international ad and marketing campaigns for many of the largest consumer brands in the world.

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