Is Big Data Over-Hyped?

Why is big data such a buzzword in marketing? Can we just hop on a train, travel to big data land and profit from our analyzing of the data? We’ve seen data success stories from Amazon (unique product recommendations by customer), Orbitz (behavioral targeting of Mac users), Hollywood (predictive modeling through data) and Obama’s ’12 data-driven campaign victory. However, there are cases like Starbucks and their CEO Howard Schultz who has not hopped on the big data bandwagon. I try not to imply any negative connotations when calling it a bandwagon because it has proven to be a very successful marketing tool. But there is a sort of eeriness feeling for me about big data. In a Forbes article yesterday, CEO of Prosper Insights & Analytics, Gary Drenik asks if mass hysteria is driving the big data market. He defined mass hysteria as “a condition affecting a group of persons characterized by excitement or anxiety.” Drenik’s feelings on this article are based upon that his company “prides itself turning data into solutions.” He is hesistant to hop onto the ‘bigger is better’ attitude of big data. His article reminds us of the behind the scenes work that goes into big data. Where is the data going to be stored? What kind of data are you going to store? Do you have the personal to analyze the data? Yes, database marketing starts with big data, but it ends with the “ability of users to identify meaningful findings from relevant data for better informed business decisions by senior management.” As a current marketing student, this is wide open opportunity. Learning about data and becoming “data literate” will lessen this “mass hysteria” over big data. Big data and database marketing will be a tool in every marketers toolbox.

The article in Strategy + Business, The Four Types of Digital Marketer, classifies companies as either leaders, scholars, pioneers or novices.


To be classified as a Leader, you need both insights and analysis (driven from database marketing) and platforms/activation. Scholars are all insights/analysis but have no profitable actions to show for. Pioneers are all platforms/activation, but no complimentary insights about their customers. This relates to the hype over big data. Not doubt big data and database marketing are proven to succeed. But for your company to be a Leader, the database marketing needs complimentary attributes that of “Pioneer” companies. There needs to be established positions on successful platforms and business model. Insights from data isn’t going to fix and make companies profitable. You can’t be all scholar and no pioneer. I, like Drenik and his Forbes article, think that that is why big data shouldn’t have such a hype to it. Rather, the database marketing, the analytics and successful insights from the data is whats more important here. Not just that every company should drop what they are doing and start storing every bit of data/information.




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