Without a clear idea of the objective big data is worthless. It’s only as useful as the hypotheses and filters we have to interpret it with.
The term “big data” stands for the huge amount of structured and unstructured data which companies are inundated with day in, day out. It’s not the data itself which is so crucial to the digital brand experience; what counts is what companies make of the information they’ve gathered. Large volumes of data can be analysed in order to draw useful conclusions, on the basis of which better decisions are made. The company can then be strategically aligned on the application thereof. Big data seems to provide endless attractive possibilities. All interactions between consumers and the brand can be measured practically in real time. Topics can also be identified that appear to be relevant for the customer or to the understanding of the customer. Offers can be placed in the right place at the right time – with minimum wastage. Thanks to big data, in theory it’s easier than ever before to determine the perfect time or place for a message to be sent. This enables the brand experience to be constantly optimised at every touchpoint. Google, for example, knows which keywords people search for and when. Theoretically, Facebook can predict when a relationship will end and where a new one is being formed. Moreover, thanks to big data the success of such actions can be measured much better: in likes and shares, website views, time spent on a website and registrations, but also in sold products or store visits. Customer movements can be better tracked and results apparently mapped more clearly.
Are creative ideas still needed in marketing?
For brands this is a great chance to distribute customised information and test where and how this is perceived. Big data provides us with an incredibly in-depth and detailed view of the lives of our clients. The apparent possibility of total measurability and rapid access to more or less reliable figures are thus a source of great hope for companies and brands alike. Data-based control of customer addressing and communication is therefore top of the list for most marketing managers. In this respect some of them are even asking themselves whether this new diversity of data and technologies is causing the significance of creative ideas in marketing and the belief in these to fade.
However, despite all the optimism this quantity of numbers should be seen for what it is: a (powerful) tool for brand leadership – but not the only one by a long shot. Big data is able to tell us what’s wrong faster – but not what’s right. Furthermore, even the vastest amount of information is worthless without a clear idea of the objective. It’s only as useful as the hypotheses and filters we have to interpret it with. The seemingly endless opportunities offered by large quantities of data often leave us paralysed. These huge volumes thus only become valuable in conjunction with a big idea.
The fact that we have more data at our disposal doesn’t automatically mean that we make better decisions.
Big ideas change the world
With a big idea it’s easier to reach decisions on the future of a brand or a company. It develops a vision for the coming years while big data merely describes the past or the status quo. The best ideas and brand experiences therefore only draw on individual highquality data points. Big ideas bring about categorical change. They cause things to suddenly be seen in a new light and have the power to turn the world upside down.
With its big idea Uber has altered the way we handle personal mobility. With its simple yet brilliant idea Airbnb has revolutionised the tourist industry. What’s remarkable about big brands with big ideas is that people – and not primarily data – are often behind them and drive them. If, at the end of the 1980s, the founder of Red Bull had listened to the data, he would have abandoned his idea. For to start with, the energy drink from Austria failed in all trials. The entrepreneur continued to believe in the big idea behind it, however.
What we really need, therefore, are talented people who have a clear idea of a brand and know what they want to achieve with it. This is the only way to create suitable hypotheses and filters on the basis of which big data can be sensibly selected and applied. This generates real added value and creates a unique experience. Data usually attracts people who are already interested. Big ideas, however, attract people who don’t yet know that they need something new. Together they form a whole: the meeting of big data and big ideas can have an enormous impact. Administered in the correct dose, big data is the perfect catalyser for disruptive big ideas that give a brand a real, long-term lead on the market.