Not that many years ago, many marketers expressed resistance to the concept of leveraging big data for marketing efforts. There were the basic questions, such as what big data is and how it works. There were also questions about whether it had the potential to provide benefits that outweighed any possible risks. In the years since the term became prominent in marketing circles, a number of pioneers have blazed trails for others to follow. As a result, the marketing sector has emerged as one of the most ardent supporters of big data, embracing it completely.
Although big data is poised to be a dominant force in the marketing sector, questions remain. Marketers wonder whether big data has limitless possibilities or a defined ceiling. They question whether big data will continue to drive profits significantly. They are also curious about which advances in technology and methodology will affect leveraging big data in 2015 and beyond.
Offering predictions is always risky, especially when big data is involved. However, the following predictions are offered in the spirit of "forewarned is forearmed."
- Managing big data will become increasingly mainstream. In simple terms, big data management involves the collection, storage and analysis of large amounts of data to provide guidance for actions. Big data will start to see widespread use across all departments in the organization, with special attention paid to serving the marketing departments.
- The "big" adjective will disappear from usage. As big data becomes the norm rather the exception, it will simply become known as "data." The collection and use of massive quantities of data will become routine operating procedures that require no special descriptor.
- Cloud solutions will be utilized increasingly. Cloud technology eliminates many of the specialized skills needed to extract meaningful analytics the traditional way. As an added advantage, cloud technology can make it easier for those who need the information to access it in less time, from any location and without assistance from IT.
- Time lags will be reduced dramatically. Collecting and analyzing big data can be a lengthy process that can prevent prompt action on the results. For many, the delay has been frustrating or unacceptable. New tools to provide enhanced data-mining capabilities and streamlining from data scientists will reduce the time gap between collecting the data and having actionable results.
- People will become more important than cookies. From the earliest days of the Internet, companies have relied heavily on data derived from cookies. However, as the social media sites, Google and similar players continue to grow in popularity, direct marketing — renamed people-based marketing — will quickly become the dominant standard.
- The Internet of Things will expand dramatically, allowing marketers unprecedented opportunities to hyper-target personalized messages. It may take four or five years for the seeds planted in 2015 to start producing low-hanging fruit, but an increasing number of companies will begin making forays into leveraging things like i-Beacons and wearable technology for unique marketing opportunities.
From its humble beginnings as an innovative technology for which many marketers could see little use, big data has evolved to assume valued status among advertising and marketing professionals. The importance of big data for marketing efforts will only continue to expand. Those who chose early adoption have already proved that big data can play a critical role in marketing success, and they stand ready to flex their domination in the near future. The longer that you delay leveraging the power of big data, the further behind you are liable to fall.