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What Do Marketers Want From Big Data?

Predictive analytics on customers’ lifetime value gets interest from marketers

Big Data is top of mind for marketers across industries, but putting it to work is a huge undertaking that few have mastered. As such, most marketers still see data as both an obstacle and opportunity. And they’re well aware that they have a long way to go before truly harnessing it.

A Q1 2013 survey from CMO Council and SAS found that six out of 10 marketers worldwide viewed Big Data in this light. Taking a more optimistic view, nearly one in five respondents agreed that Big Data was an opportunity and an obstacle but believed that they were close to implementing and effectively using the resource. And another 15% said it was a full opportunity and they had all the processes and tools in place that they needed.

One of the challenges of Big Data is assessing what information is really worthwhile to marketers. The survey found that the greatest percentage of respondents, 71%, were interested in adding predictive analytics around the lifetime value of customers to their customer data profile—figuring out who would be their best customer going forward, and perhaps even how best to target that customer. Over half of respondents cited a more general interest in developing a more fleshed-out online customer profile and an ability to put that profile to work.

Other responses suggest simply moving various types of data outside of the silos where information is amassed would be a boon. Forty-five percent of marketers wanted to integrate customer service feedback into their customer data profile. Social media data continues to be useful to a good chunk of marketers, with 42% wanting to include it in the customer profile. Integrating order history into the customer profile was also cited by 20% of marketers.

When CMO Council asked marketers how data had changed company operations so far, the greatest percentage, 52%, said it had had a positive impact on identifying new business leads. It also helped in filling out customer profiles and intelligence for nearly half of respondents. The two responses suggest that data is already playing a role in both customer acquisition and retention.

But the survey additionally confirmed that data has not truly revamped the way businesses conduct themselves. Only 29% of respondents said data had forced a change in the culture, processes and solutions to manage information at their company. The same percentage reported increasing investment in technologies to manage data, which conversely indicates that 71% had not increased investment in such technology. While these results show that data has not completely upended the way most businesses operate, a growing minority do seem to be taking a hard look at how data can and will move them forward—and what they need to do to meet that change head-on.

There is no question that however marketers implement Big Data, whether at the operations or outreach level, or both, its role will only get bigger. Nearly six out of 10 analytics professionals from around the world surveyed by Lavastorm Analytics in February 2013 said that their company would be increasing investment in analytics.


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