Above: Visualization of the United States based on distance to the nearest McDonald’s (Via Data Pointed)
Wikipedia notes data is “the lowest level of abstraction from which information and then knowledge are derived.” But it’s currently at the highest level of priority with marketers.
eMarketer tells us that CMO’s across the globe are increasing investments in customer analytics and customer relationship management solutions to “help them address the impending issues and concerns surrounding the growing amount of available marketing and customer data.”
The Data Explosion
An extreme, retail example of the data explosion is available in Walmart. Walmart processes one million customer transactions every hour. This equals a data feed in the petabytes that’s stored in massive databases. A petabyte is equal to one thousand terabytes. Consider how many petabytes of customer data are generated across just the retail industry each day.
Regardless of how massive that data feed is, I’m willing to bet a server or two that the banking industry creates an even larger data feed. And these are simply one form of data: customer transactions. Mobile has provided marketers with a new layer of data along with social media. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 80 percent of a brand’s customer information is unstructured — in the form of texts, emails, voice and video.
It’s as much a challenge as it is an opportunity as brands are responding to this massive influx of data. It requires marketers to think differently and take a new path to optimize the use of this unstructured data.
We’re seeing businesses shift to help marketers think differently. NCR and IBM started out selling cash registers and computers, respectively. Today there are more business intelligence firms focused on data than there are hardware companies.
Even Apple is shifting away from hardware and focusing on data. iCloud is Apple’s realization that more and more users don’t want to dock to hardware to buy apps and other content.
Return on Information
We’re generating data at a pace faster than we can use it. There are many untapped opportunities for marketers in their data feeds. Transforming the increasing amounts of unstructured data can prove challenging, but it’s something being done today.
From retailers and consumer packaged goods brands to restaurant chains and theme parks, marketers are already starting to drive a return on information. And technology is catching up to help us do this on an even more widespread basis.
Are there undiscovered insights sitting in your data? Do you know which customer segment is the most profitable? Could your direct marketing efforts be more targeted?
Better understanding and meeting the needs of your consumer are an attainable goal if data is the foundation.
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