ABI Research released a new market forecast, predicting global spending on big data will exceed $31 billion this year. Over the next five years the market will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 29.6%, ABI says. A look at the content marketing, content management and business reality behind the big data numbers.
There’s a lot of controversy and quite some misunderstanding regarding big data. Understandable. It’s a big topic and it concerns all areas of business, society and even life as it is today. In fact, if you think that content marketing is the buzzword of the year, just take a look at the comparison below: the growth of the number of Google searches for big data (in red), compared to the growth of Google searches regarding content marketing, considered one of the major buzzwords right now (in blue).
See the difference? Of course, both terms are omnipresent nowadays and it’s not really fair to compare them. However, just as content marketing is an umbrella term, big data is often USED as an umbrella term depending on who uses it. Defining big data is pretty easy and straightforward if you look at it from a pure technology viewpoint and, still, some debate it. Mapping the different ways organizations use big data is an entirely other thing though so maybe we don’t really need to focus on definitions but on the possibilities and use of big data within the areas we know. Because big data concerns everyone.
Big data and content management: V for Value
There is a strong relationship between content and big data. In an interview with John Mancini at the occasion of the Global Directions 2013 conference, John talks about big data from the enterprise content management perspective. It shouldn’t be a surprise that big data – and also fast data, as Ovum calls it – is omnipresent at the number one intelligent information management conference.
In a recent interview, another keynote speaker at Global Directions 2013, Salesforce.com’s Chief Enterprise Strategist, Bruce Richardson, had this to say about the topic: big data + predictive analytics = huge ROI.
Now, what’s the connection with content management and content marketing? For starters, as big data impacts virtually everything, it strongly effects the broader information and content management picture. In the end it’s about the explosion of data, turned into information and content. At the same time, content – as a social object of interaction and input as we look at it from a content marketing, messaging, customer data or social business viewpoint, also adds to the growth of big data as an avalanche of signals that can matter for various goals.
As John Mancini says in the interview, “at the center of how we will act upon the insights gathered by big data will be content (and lots of it)”. Yet, the focus needs to be on benefits and less on technology he feels. Data scientists should help us to interpret all the data we generate today and to exploit big data the interdependency between technology and business must be addressed (full interview here). Or in other words: value, both for the business and the customer.
Value is a crucial ‘V’ to be added to the famous list of three big data ‘Vs’ (and sometimes four as in the infographic and list below) that is often used to describe the various dimensions of big data:
- Volume: the sheer volume of data and information that gets created whereby we mainly talk infrastructure, processing and management of big data, be it in a selective way. You probably read about that increasing volume or saw an infographic such as the one by IBM below.
- Velocity: this is where analysis happens and where we also look at the speed and mechanisms at which large amounts of data can be processed for increasingly near-time or real-time outcomes, sometimes even leading to the need of fast data.
- Variety: on top of the data produced in a broad digital context, regardless of business function, societal area or systems, there is a huge increase in data and content created on more specific levels of content management, social interaction, web analysis and so much more. Variety is about the many types, being structured, unstructured and everything in between.
- Veracity. This has everything to do with accuracy which from a decision and intelligence viewpoint becomes certainty and the degree in which we can trust upon the data to do what we need/want to do.
Value, or the way big data insights are turned into content and information to fulfill business goals (including marketing), customer experiences, etc. is key as is the need for data scientists, able to turn raw data into actionable information and intelligence serving those purposes.
The mentioned forecast by ABI Research show that half of the big data budgets today are spent in salaries of data scientists and experts enabling organization to leverage big data to start with. “Narrowing the said skills gap, as well as improving the productivity of dedicated data scientists, represents a lucrative revenue opportunity for the sector’s vendors”, ABI Research says.
Big data is not just changing content management as we know it (Gartner even coined another term, Big Content in a related context) and as we’ll tackle it in future blog posts.
Big data, content marketing, social and customer experiences
Taking into account smart and fair use, big data also enables us to improve and change the ways we use content, from content analysis, content gathering, content management, content optimization, customer experience management, content marketing and many other viewpoints.
Just a few examples that we’ll cover more in depth in other blog posts as well (each of them can really lead to a long series of blog posts in fact, that’s how big big data can be):
- Content and/or user experience personalization. It’s something we have been striving for in all forms of marketing and it’s one area where the world of (web) content management is overlapping with that of platforms, tactics and channels such as website optimization, overall conversion optimization, content marketing, marketing automation, email marketing, you name it. On top of that, big data can greatly help improve customer experiences, among others by personalization and data-driven user-oriented improvement. More about those possibilities (and the limits) later.
- Analytics. Social signals and data are multiplying. What do we need in order to improve marketing and business processes and, for instance optimize our content and customer experiences? What do we need to know to adapt and change in response and ideally pro-sponse to gathered social and connected intelligence? How do we combine all that and turn what we see into business intelligence and process improvement? What about customer data and a single customer view, connecting data from various sources? How far do we go? What do we need to know and how do we connect those volumes of data and content? Analytics and big data go hand in hand. As IBM VP Neil Isford, another speaker at Global Directions 2013, says: “analytics is about people with trusted, relevant and timely information to address business outcomes but it’s no a new thing”. However, it has changed. What has changed according to him? Watch the video below. Timely and relevancy are two crucial words here as both content management experts and content marketing practitioners (and customer-centric thinking marketers) will confirm: remember right content right time right etc. Relevancy indeed.
These are just two examples and a few of many questions. Yet, no matter how complex big data might seem, in the end the output is about simplicity, connections and relevancy. That’s why it’s also important in a social business and collaboration context. Or why it’s used to improve relevancy of search. Or higher responsiveness and quality in customer-facing processes. Or in other forms of analytics, including predictive.
The list doesn’t end here. But this is for sure: big data is not just a buzzword. We’re just starting to see the consequences and possibilities. The impact on information management is just starting to show. The dots are starting to get connected. And there is a mighty lot to be said. Stay tuned for more on big data, especially from a content management, collaboration/social business and content marketing context.
In the meantime remember that it’s about the benefits and the value. It’s about using the data for the right reasons, including all the intermediary steps it takes, connecting IT and business as John Mancini says. Connecting data, input, output, insights, actions, people and purpose.