Don’t Be Afraid of Big Data

“Big Data” is becoming ever more important to companies to maintain a competitive advantage.  As companies strive to improve their customer experience, they realize they need to utilize Big Data to gain a better understanding of customers’ needs and to provide customized, targeted products and services.

I’m using the term “Big Data” to refer to the ability to analyze a large amount of data from different sources, such as sales, operations, website behavior and social media.  While it can be daunting to collect all that data and get it in a format that can be easily analyzed, companies don’t necessarily have to have a data scientist on staff; third-party providers make these services accessible even to small and medium businesses.

Despite all of the above, I’m surprised by how many small and medium companies still make their decisions based only on executives’ gut instinct or prior experience.  There’s good reason for them to get on the Big Data bandwagon.  Some examples of how companies can benefit:

  • They can look for purchasing patterns to determine which offers to give to which customers, as well as which customers are likely to be most profitable. (Remember when Target sent a teenage girl pregnancy-related coupons and angered the girl’s father, who later realized that Target knew more about what was going on in his home than he did?  Target was able to figure out which customers were pregnant by analyzing shopping patterns.  People were taken aback, but you have to admit, it was pretty impressive!  Target still does that, but they mix in innocuous offers so people won’t get creeped out.)
  • They can analyze trends in demand, and tweak pricing and staffing levels accordingly.
  • They can see how people are talking about them on social media and learn what might sway potential customers in their favor, as well as uncover ways to improve their offering. This can also an “early warning system” regarding customer issues, which provides the company with the opportunity to resolve issues quickly before damage is done to the company’s reputation.

You can do this!  At the very least, make sure you’re using Google Alerts and to see what people are saying about your company, and Google Analytics to understand people’s behavior on your website.  And once you’re ready to take the next step, check out some of the tools recommended in this article.  That’s when you can start combining the data from various sources to come up with really powerful insights!

So do I think Big Data will replace market research?  Of course not!  But Big Data enables us to come up with hypotheses that can help us ask the right questions when we conduct research, resulting in more effective research, which means higher profits.  Let’s do just that – just give me a call at 818-752-7210 or email info at

Sources: “Stop Playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey: Unlock Your Big Data Insights,” Inc, March 16, 2016; “Former Facebook Data Scientist Shares How to Wrangle Your Data,” Inc., March 2, 2016