Turning Big Data into Better Data

Turning Big Data into Better Data

The term big data might be losing its panache. Not only is there more information than ever, a large portion of it that companies have to work with and analyze has been generated in the last year or so. So when it comes to thinking about the term these days, some of the world’s biggest companies and organizations are more likely to replace the word “big” with terms like “better,” “accurate,” and “real-time.”

“Walmart had big data before big data was cool,” said Cindy Davis, Walmart’s EVP of Global Customer Insights & Analytics during Nielsen’s Consumer 360 event this week in San Antonio. “The task at hand for us today is leveraging that data at scale and at the speed of retail. And because of the amount of data we have and the retail partnerships we have, we can do things with that data that have never been possible before.”

Tara Walpert Levy, Managing Director of Global Ads Marketing Development at Google, has a similar take, noting that she’d actually like to coin the term “better data.” “Today, it’s better and that’s the difference in how businesses will be making decisions for tomorrow,” she said.

And not only is the focus on better data, it’s on immediate data. That’s because having data by itself doesn’t help anyone. And to that point, Gayle Fuguitt, CEO Advertising Research Foundation, stressed that without actionable data in real time, real-time decision making and insight sharing isn’t possible.

The one catch with that scenario, says Fuguitt, is collaboration and partnership with the C-suite. Without buy-in from the corporate level, those real-time decisions at the store won’t be possible.

“We all need to be attenuated to real-time for decision timing,” said Fuguitt. “We need to be measuring when we have the impact and then we need to be able to share the insights. Machines can’t come up with the insights.”

Walmart’s Davis couldn’t agree more.

“We need to empower the decision makers,” she said. “I want the store manager to know right now what the issues are that will improve the customer’s experience every day. The only thing worse than big data is old data.”

Unexpectedly, the panel discussion progressed on an array of topics and perspectives for more than 40 minutes before one key issue was broached: privacy.

While privacy is clearly a critical topic for all brands, companies and organizations to mind, there was little debate among the panelists that the data is clear on one thing: consumers want to be found and engaged with.

“It’s important to have opt-in relationships, but there’s no question that consumers are inviting us to connect with them. They’re opting in at greater rates than ever,” said Fuguitt. “At the end of the day, consumers are inviting us to interact with us, and programmatic buying helps us connect with consumers more.”