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From Big Data to Better Data in 2013

Posted by: Alexandra Meyer on January 17, 2013
CES 2013

If last week’s Consumer Electronics Show is a harbinger of trends to come, a major trend in 2013 will be a shift in how we look at and talk about “big data.” The evolution of big data seems to be a move from a nebulous ubiquitous term to describe all analytics gathered from social listening and information sharing to focusing on personal information and how to target the individual.

From the HAPIfork’s calorie monitoring to fitness watches, sleep monitors and blood pressure measuring, the buzz at CES 2013 was around devices designed to collect and manage personal data, helping individuals become healthier and, hopefullly, happier. As James McQuivey noted in Forbes, this will bring with it a whole set of conflicts to be resolved going forward.

“This is a company that understands that sensors, when coupled with our bodies, can become a completely new type of experience for individual consumers. Other manufacturers see the body as territory for your insurance company, your doctor, or even your employer to claim, so they were there, too, offering devices and apps designed to help track our aging population on behalf of institutions,” McQuivey writes. “Mark my words, this split — between using body-monitoring technology on behalf of institutions vs. in service of individuals — will become one of the most significant and divisive splits in the next decade as governments attempt to regulate anything that touches the body; institutions attempt to control access and services; and individuals respond with, ‘get your hands off both my body and the body of data I’m collecting.’ There is a huge market here and a massive fight coming, don’t miss it.”

The new data landscape, opening huge new markets, creates new opportunities and challenges for marketers. As 2012 drew to a close, marketers gathered in Toronto, Canada at Marketing Magazine’s "It’s All Social" conference, which touched on emerging trends, changes and challenges within the social media marketing space.

Location-based marketing, data-driven marketing, big data and tech-based marketing tactics have established their place in the lexicon of the latest marketing buzzwords. But what does it all mean? What are the implications of these new residents to the role of the marketer?

What became clear at the conference is that one of the most pervasive trends entering the marketplace is the integration of technology within marketing strategy and tactics. The traditional role of the CMO as ideation expert, creative strategist and campaign generator no longer rings true. Consumer online activity is generating massive amounts of data around customers’ interactions with brands.

CEO of Social Media Group Maggie Fox, who closed the conference with her talk on “How Marketing Will Rule the World,” cited that by 2017, the CMO will spend more on technology than the CTO. The marketing role will require someone both business and technically inclined. A marketing technologist would combine these disciplines to make sense of these huge amounts of data, identifying action-based connections and improving the performance of campaigns.

Social media is facilitating greater conversation and interaction among consumers and brands. This commands the need for technological experts to design custom algorithms that filter through the noise and identify trends within the unstructured data. "Social" listening alone is no longer sufficient. Knowing that X many people say they like a product is far less valuable than discovering that people who possess characteristic X are likely to say sentiment Y.

The topic of marketing technology also surfaced during the "What’s Next" discussion panel on growing marketing trends. Managing editor of BetaKit, Erin Bury, characterized location-based marketing as the way of the future. Some may be wary of this trend because of its intrusion on personal privacy. But it appears that consumers are becoming increasingly more willing to trade privacy in exchange for further personalization, something the popularity of smart technology at CES seems to bear out. 61% of consumers stated they would trade increased privacy in order to receive information that better informs their future purchase decisions, according to a survey conducted by Accenture in the US and the UK.

Clearly the technological landscape is changing the way marketers need to think and operate. Activities and roles within teams will need to be redefined. While most organizations today spend 65% of their time focusing on data capture, 20% on data reporting, and 15% on data analysis, Maggie Fox believes this time allocation should be reversed,with the most time spent on data analysis.

There’s a wealth of existing data. Look to the brands that can interpret this data effectively and draw actionable insights to define the successful marketers of the future.

Alexandra Meyer is Senior Associate, Client Services for Interbrand Toronto.

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