Feeling overwhelmed by big data? Want to learn more on the topic? Big data can answer your biggest questions about your customers, you just have to know what to ask. Check out some of these great insights given by panelists at The American Marketing Association (AMA) Atlanta Chapter SIG luncheon yesterday. The panel of executives included our Chief Revenue Officer Michael Kogon, Tom Lowry of Google, Douwe Bergsma of Georgia-Pacific, and Julie Bowerman of The Coca-Cola Company.
The panel was led by Ken Bernhardt, Regents Professor of Marketing Emeritus at Georgia State University. He opened the event by providing a quote from IBM’s new CEO, who said that “Big Data promises to do for our era what steam, electricity, and oil did for the industrial age.” But how prepared are people for these changes that are taking place? According to an IBM CMO study only 41% of CMOs said they’re prepared to handle the growth and the volume of data.
So what exactly is big data? Let’s hear how some of our panelists put it:
“The emergence of multiple sources of data, from brand engagement to transaction.” –Julie Bowerman, Coca-Cola
“Something to help us inform all of our big decisions. A sea of information that we are all trying to synthesize into something useful.” –Michael Kogon
Do you see big data playing a bigger role in organizations in the future?
“Gut decision makers and data-driven decision makers are clashing right now. In the next 3-5 years you’ll see a big shift in how data impacts strategic decision making.” – Michael Kogon
“How we get data is the same but how we use data is going to change. It will help us to make better, smarter, and faster decisions.” –Douwe Bergsma, Georgia-Pacific
How can we better understand big data?
“The art of storytelling is more important than the data. Data visualization is extremely important. Right now it’s locked in a graph that’s overcomplicated.” –Tom Lowry, Google
The panel discussed how the practice of marketing, especially when it comes to big data, is an art as well as a science, and it’s important to illustrate your big data in ways that make it easier for key decision makers to understand and interpret. Sometimes, what the data is saying and what the marketer believes to be true can be very different. It’s important to combine those two moments and align what the customer is saying with what the data is telling you. Julie Bowerman of Coca-Cola said “we put consumers in a box, depending on how we define a brand.” As a result, we make assumptions about what the data will tell us before we have even received it.
So what are some examples? How are brands using big data to enhance the customer experience? As Tom Lowry of Google mentioned, the Amazon.com product suggestion tool is “the most sophisticated tool you use all day and you don’t even know it…it’s additive to the experience.” It’s important to us as marketers not to make our customers feel ‘creeped out’ when we use the data we have on them, but instead seamlessly integrate it into a better buying experience.
How should we determine what decisions will be best influenced by big data?
“I like to start out with the question ‘what do you wish you knew?’ You have to build it in reverse…that’s how you get out of the sea of data coming at you, and you start to look for the real answers…if you don’t start out with ‘what do I wish I knew?’ you just get bogged down with dashboards and data streams.” -Michael Kogon
Can both B2B and B2C companies benefit from what big data has to offer?
“For B2C companies, customer data is helpful but you have to get it through the supply chain, which takes more time. B2B companies can get the most ‘bang for their buck’ out of it today, because they have a leg up on the turnaround time.” -Michael Kogon
Now that I have all of this big data, what do I do?
“Put the capacity in place to act on your decision…invest in tools to act upon your decisions while the info you obtained is still valid.” -Michael Kogon
“Don’t be overwhelmed by big data. It’s an evolution, and to be overwhelmed can slow you down.” –Julie Bowerman
Great advice from some very experienced executives. Special thanks to all of the panelists and their moderator. Interpreting big data is quite the task, but asking the right questions can provide big payoff.
Still not sure what to do with your data? Tweet questions to the panelists or include them in the comments below.
Thanks to AMA Atlanta for a great event, and all of our participants!
Ken Bernhardt - Regents Professor of Marketing Emeritus at Georgia State University
Julie Bowerman - VP eCommerce, The Coca-Cola Company
Tom Lowry - Director, Technology, Google
Douwe Bergsma - CMO, Georgia-Pacific
Michael Kogon, Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Definition 6