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Big data – a Sevendots perspective

Big data – a Sevendots perspective

Will smart machines ever outsmart smart business people?

Sevendots partners Colin McAllister and Enrique Domingo share their thoughts on the latest buzz word, big data.

What is big data?

Colin: Big data stands for fast growth in availability of data. It implies you can do great things by crunching and aligning lots of numbers with sophisticated software – and it’s partly true.

Enrique: This promise of making sense of the growing amounts of data that we generate is very attractive for marketers but what really counts is the ability to connect the information with business outcomes. The big challenge is how to gain value from big data.

What are the benefits of big data?

Colin: Large retailers will be using big data as a more efficient way to respond quickly to consumer needs. Loyalty cards for example provide lots of data which an automated system can use to send relevant offers to relevant customers.

Aside from this big data can also identify gaps. Big data can provide early signals – you then need to look into these and turn them into business opportunities. We have to remember that big data is all about mechanical machines and not yet business thinking machines. The most successful companies are those with smart business people not just smart machines. Take Apple for example.

What are the major challenges with big data?

Colin: Having the right data or information at hand is good but it is not enough. You still have to make good decisions, particularly at a more strategic rather than tactical level. Big data is a step forward – it gives you a high performing car but then you have to drive it.

Enrique: The first point to consider here however is that only a few key players have the technology based platforms to make sense of it.

Does big data replace the need for market research?

Colin: No, I don’t think so. Market research companies just need to evolve, they can leverage the indications provided by big data to focus on identifying the right questions to then research.

How should brands use big data?

Colin: Brands who want to be successful need to take some risks. Big data can help reduce these risks but to stand out you have to be smart and you need to be able to make the right decisions.

Enrique: Companies should divert some of their primary research budget towards looking into the right ideas coming from big data analytics and evaluate different scenarios to make opportunities happen – either through internal resources or also involving external thinking.