If your company is like most these days, you’ve got a rapidly growing treasure trove of customer and prospect data. From transactional data to website data, social media data and more, you’ve got data. Big Data. And now, as I discussed in my previous article on What is Big Data, you’re ready to harness all this information and use it in some Predictive Modeling to predict what your customers and prospects might do in the future.
Before you get too far on your “let’s tackle Big Data” project, though, I’d like to recommend that you start by making sure that you first have the following things in place:
1. The Backing of Senior Management and/or a Corporate Sponsor – While harnessing Big Data can bring tremendous value to your organization, it will cost time and money to make it happen. You need to have someone at the top of your organization helping to push it through. Plus, if you’re in the IT Department, you need to have a business user, such as the Marketing Department, behind you. If you’re in the Marketing Department you need to get IT on board.
2. People with the Right Skill Sets – When hiring for positions that will deal with big data, companies need to understand that these new positions require a hybrid of skills:
a. Technical Skills including technology and quantitative skills (math, statistics and modeling)
b. Clear Business Knowledge – these individuals need to fully understand the ins and outs of their business to be able to communicate with their non-technical counter-parts
c. Soft-skills – this is the area that many hiring managers might ignore, but it might be the most critical. This includes being flexible and trying new things, having curious minds, being persistent when digging deeper into problem solving and also being creative.
A new job title as emerged as big data has grown – Data Scientists. According to Harvard Business Review (Oct 2012) Data Scientists is the sexist job of the 21st century. HBR describes a Data Scientist as a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data.
3. Accurate Data – Garbage in, garbage out. Before you start doing anything with your data, be sure that it is accurate and consistent (see my previous post on how to Solve Your Missing Customer Data Problems).
4. A Proof of Concept from Your Partners – Before you spend money on specialized software or sign a long-term contract with a company like MacKenzie, make sure you understand what it is that you’re paying for. Ask for a proof of concept of the deliverables that they will be providing to you.
5. A Specific Business Problem to Solve – Finally, plan to start small. Before you take on the world, find a specific business problem to solve that can lead to meaningful and impactful results.
For example, say you’re getting ready for a product launch. In the past you might have done some advertising, put out a video, and crossed your fingers hoping the product would sell. Now you can look at the buzz, analyze the number of website clicks, video views, social media shares, responses to your ads, etc., and use this information to plan your production and modify your marketing strategies.
Need help making the most of your company’s data? Give us a call. As marketing research experts, MacKenzie Corporation can help you take that data and turn it into actionable information.