A business cannot compete successfully and effectively in the changing online economy by proclaiming a “Big Data strategy” that is confined to its own universe (its own site, content, and users). It’s like the movie Men In Black, when Tommy Lee Jones opens a locker in Grand Central Station to expose an entire civilization living in a space that is holistically meaningful only to them, yet is oblivious to the universe outside. No one runs a business looking only at their own internal data, oblivious to the massive amounts of information available outside of their own universe. At least that’s what we want to assume.
Unfortunately, many companies tend to emphasize their own internal data, analysis, and assumptions more heavily than you might think. For example, as a jewelry retailer, you may describe your diamonds as "brilliant" or "radiant," but in reality, your prospective customers are searching for jewelry that is "sparkling" or "bright." Or "blue denim" versus "blue jeans" or "pink off-shoulder dress" versus "pink asymmetric dress" -- the list goes on and on, but no matter how you slice it, companies must look outside of their tent in order to be successful in this new data-heavy world. The only way they will scale doing so is to use Big Data Applications (BDAs).
To take it one step further, let’s look at the world pre- and post-BDA -- specifically the music industry. In the last 15 years, few industries have been more fundamentally disrupted than the music industry. Before BDAs, we relied on the radio to give us music on demand with stations trying to target specific types of users through segmentation. They created stations that focused on rock, classical, easy listening, and rap. With this model, you would be lucky to hear two songs that you like in the same hour. With BDAs and the massive amount of data they store, we now have entities like Pandora and Spotify, which take these data sets and create personalized radio stations that offer the ability to hear just the music that you like and can access it anytime and anywhere -- and it learns based on your listening history. This is just one example of how BDAs impact our everyday life.
So if the data is available, accessible, and valuable, why aren’t companies using it? The answer is: resources. The Web knows your customers and their behaviors more than any team of experienced businesspeople could ever imagine with the ability to trace and record consumer action and intent on a massive scale. However, data mining, interpretation, and implementation is a full-time job, and businesses are just not convinced of the value. Yet.
So what is a BDA? BDAs take actions -- often in real-time and high frequency, based on ongoing Big Data analytics -- to provide better online user experiences and specific, outcome-driven results without human effort. They harness internal data and the Web’s data to deliver better outcomes. BDAs unlock the value of big data and ultimately improve the performance of businesses.
Big Data Applications have five central elements:
Big Data reflects the size of the data sets that inform the BDA’s logic. Cloud deployment allows BDAs to aggregate insights from across the Web and simplify integration for clients. The network effect of BDAs is that the more a BDA is used, the smarter it becomes. Actions are what BDAs actually produce -- not reports and recommendations. BDAs are measured on the impact of their actions on a business.
BDAs are continuous learning systems. Every observation makes the application smarter and consequently improves user experiences and results for clients in real-time. Before BDAs, a business had to analyze large amounts of information and then prioritize the recommendations to implement from those analyses. The proof that the “machine” is working is in the results themselves. We see this happening in search marketing, medical diagnostics, crime fighting, promotions, and more.
Because they are continuous learning systems looking outside the tent, BDAs view the world in a very different way: there are millions of data sets that must be compiled and analyzed to inform decision-making and drive actions and results for businesses. It is the inherent job of a BDA to look outside of its tent at the surrounding world to help companies make better decisions and experience better results. BDAs improve user experience and positively impact the bottom line, and keep businesses from an abyss of endless information. And perhaps most importantly, the winners will be the ones who plugged in, got smart, and partnered with the machines to win.