Expert opinion: Big data and publishing, how do they intersect?

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Teradata are the world’s largest provider of analytic data. We sat down with Tom Bailey, Teradata’s UK & Ireland Head of Sales to discuss the future of big data and marketing, and how it all ties in with the publishing world.

Tom’s colleague and Teradata’s Commercial Director, Rob Salmon, will be speaking at this year’s Technology for Marketing and Advertising Expo about how customer data can be used intelligently, if you’d like to attend, hit the link.

1. Can you explain your role at Teradata?

I am the head of our UK & Ireland new business sales team. My role is to bring on-board new clients who we can help grow and expand their digital marketing capabilities.

2. Can you elaborate a little upon the term “big data”, what makes it different to data gathering and analysis of the past?

There are many explanations about how you should define the term ‘‘Big Data’’ and exactly what it means. A commonly used description is with the 3 V’s (volume, velocity and variety). There is a further expansion on this to the 5 V’s (including verification & value), which I prefer as it adds more context to the purpose and reason why businesses need to get to grips with this phenomena. Below is a brief description of which each V stands for:

Volume: As the name suggests, there is more, bigger, data than ever before. The amount of data that is being produced increases every day and many businesses struggle to not only capture this but most importantly act on it.

Velocity: It is not just the amount that is increasing, but the speed too – this produces its own challenges with reaction times in a constantly moving market.

Variety: There are now so many different customer touch points where data can be collected from, however the formats in which they are stored are also different. The growth of unstructured data (video/social data/etc) is a major reason why traditionally data gathering & analysis has been a complicated process.

Verification: The quality of the data is vital, ‘bad’ data serves no purpose and adds no value to the business. Also, the ability to merge related data/insight together is a major benefit.

Value: What is this data worth? Does it enhance our offering? How can we use this insight to make our marketing communications better, plus make better informed business decisions? These are the questions any business, not just publishers, need to ask themselves. With so much data available there needs to be a conscious choice as to what should be used, otherwise there is a danger you can drown in information!

It is the complexity that is the real difference to the data gathering and analysis of the past. It is not a single or limited number of channels any more, it is not static nor uniform in structure. Companies must have systems in place that can cope with this constant tidal wave of information and quickly and effectively act upon it – both for outbound marketing and inbound customer communications.

The mantra for businesses now must be ‘’Put the customer first’’ – yes it sounds clichéd, but customers do have the power, they do have the choice of what, when and where – it is down to businesses to discover this, understand this and respond appropriately. This is what proper management of “Big Data’’ can deliver – custom built tools that have the capacity to listen, analyse and react to vast volumes of data instantly. This process, if it is to work, needs to be automated; the technology is there to do the heavy lifting, removing the burden of production, allowing the business to focus on strategy and future planning.

3. Do you see the growth of this sector continuing?

Absolutely. More content is being produced across more channels, by more people than ever before – this is a trend that will continue and all businesses have the challenge of attempting to manage, understand and react to this in real time. More traditional data-gathering and analysis methods simply do not enable this to happen. If you look at the fastest growing/most successful businesses in recent years (the likes of Google/Facebook/etc), they have all embraced ‘big data’ and manage it to their advantage.

Likewise many established businesses that have not embraced the changing market place or consumer behaviours have fallen by the wayside (such as Blockbuster, HMV). It is now expected that all businesses can effectively conduct multi-channel marketing campaigns, but that isn’t enough! They need to be able to cross-channel market, deliver a consistent, coherent message to individual customers at any time and via any medium. This is only possible by embracing “Big Data’’ management techniques.

4. How do you feel publishers can make use of big data techniques?

I believe that for publishers especially the need to understand and manage “Big Data’’ is vital to their future success.

Due to the sheer volume of content that is produced every minute of every day and the wide variety of channels it is broadcast through, publishers have a unique challenge – and opportunity – to engage with their audience, if they are able to utilise the data available to them.

The growth of digital has had a significant impact on how publishers work. I myself used to work for a traditional B2B magazine company in the early ’00 – when digital began to change the market. The struggle of moving from a print based model to an online one was extremely painful and not something that is yet complete for many companies.

When you add to this the vast volume of data; be it articles, product reviews, blogs, videos, comments or likes that need to be analysed and digested in order for a publisher to stay relevant to its audience, it is potentially an overwhelming thought. However, I also think that the publishing industry has a massive opportunity – the brand they have built and the loyal audiences which they’ve established give them a distinct advantage.

They are, in many cases, seen as the expert source of information for their chosen market or subject, however they need to embrace and use the external content that is being produced to further extend their reach and still be relevant to their audience. It is a change in mind-set from being the expert voice to being the hub for all the voices/opinions – by using “Big Data’’ they can facilitate this change and become the go-to portal.

Categories: Experts

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