By: Jordan Brooks

Throughout my coursework the past couple years, one topic has been emphasized regularly by almost every marketing professor, Big Data. Big Data was a large focus, not only in my business analytics class two years ago, but also in my marketing and sales analytics class. It was brought up in my digital marketing coursework and I expect the topic to continue during my next two semesters. I enjoy looking at data because it takes the guesswork out of things. I have the actual raw numbers in front of me, and these numbers give a clear understanding to the effectiveness of a marketing effort for a company.

On the surface, Big Data is not that hard to understand. Simply put, there is A LOT of data out there, like a lot. Today data is always being collected: through social media posts, television viewership, how long you are on a website, what you bought at a store and when, and literally everything in between. There is nearly infinite data out there but what the big data revolution focuses on is analyzing and interpreting that data to use in a business strategy.

Big Data is defined in many ways, but my favorite definition is a simple one; the new tools helping us find relevant data and analyze its implications. Big Data works on the principle that the more you know, the more consistently you can gain new insights and try to predict what will happen in the future. By looking at more data points, relationships will begin to arise that were previously unseen, and these relationships will help us to learn and make more informed decisions. But with all this data, the challenge is determining what data points are meaningful versus those that are just there.

Determining what data is useful can be hard, because you want to analyze all of it but what I’ve learned in class and in the real world is that most data does not affect your strategy. The data overload can be intimidating at first, but knowing what to look for can ease the process. For example, when looking for engagement rate on social media posts you need to look at specific data points like the number of posts, likes, comments, and interactions. Those categories can be hard to find within a data set and may not even make sense at first glance, but knowing what you need helps immensely.

Looking at data really helps you understand what the marketplace, customers, and competitors are doing – but looking at internal data helps you understand your business. As technology continues to become a part of everyday life, the amount of data will grow. Big Data is here to stay and determining what data is relevant to your business and strategy will help you to get an advantage over your competitors. Analyzing the relevant data will lead to a better understanding when planning your business goals, and this data will be able drive your strategy for years to come.

How do you define and use Big Data?