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Stats & Analytics Archive

How Bracelets & Intuition Offer 3 Keys To Using Big Data Successfully

Imagine if Buzz Lightyear walked up to you and wished you Happy Birthday at a Disney Park. Or if a smart app could predict when you might be hungry based on your last meal, and proactively send you an alert with a coupon to a restaurant you happened to be walking past.

This vision of a nearly sentient and automated marketing world (dramatically visualized in the film Minority Report) is one of the future scenarios that increasingly data-centric organizations of all sizes imagine these days.

When you hear the buzzword “big data” – what do you really think it means?

Rarely has a single term caused so much excitement in business, and concern from citizens wary of losing more privacy controls on their own information. And the more times we hear that 2013 will be the “year of big data” – the more confusing it might seem. Big data is largely misunderstood.

If you consider most of the definitions written by experts, the term “big data” is usually used to describe one of three things:

  1. The analytic solutions offered by enterprise software and technology firms.
  2. The high volume of data being collected in minute detail on consumer behaviour online and offline.
  3. The ability to bring previously separate data sets together to generate new world changing insights.

No wonder there is so much confusion. Several months ago, an article in the NY Times pointed to an interesting conclusion when it came to the value of big data. It was titled, “Big Data Is Great, But Don’t Forget Intuition.”  One of the interesting points it raised was that simply having more access to data or the newfound technical ability to merge it together in unexpected ways was never going to be enough to improve businesses or change anything.

About a week after that article came out, another NY Times piece pointed to the long term experiment Disney started piloting this year around their new MagicBand bracelet system that would track Park visitors’ behaviour in minute detail and use this information (with permission) to customize everything about the park experience – even down to letting the employees dressed up as characters interact with you by name.

Together, these two articles offer the perfect vision of both the promise and pitfalls of big data. The ability to collect information has to be paired with the intuition to understand what the data is really telling you. In other words – big data will shape up to be pretty useless without some big thinking from people with the intuition to make sense of it.

So how do you put these two needs together to collect the right data, and then transform it into usable and actionable insights?  Here are three keys to realizing the promise of big data:

  1. Personalization.  This the “Buzz Lightyear knows your name” model that Disney is focused on driving with their MagicBand.  More data used in real time to improve guest experiences and give them an even more memorable visit to Disney Parks.  This focus on personalization is the ultimate double edged sword … the more information you collect about your customers, the greater expectation they have for you to customize their experience and always know who they are and what they have already told you.
  2. Optimization.  In most marketing organizations, there is significant wastage of resources and budget.  This may come from investing in marketing efforts that are not working or are not being tracked properly, or from duplication of efforts or inefficient systems in place.  Big data can offer insights into how to optimize what you are already doing to save money, improve results and even add more simplicity to the current programs.
  3. Innovation.  The most forward looking potential benefit from big data is to open up insights into new markets or opportunities that you can’t currently see.  Innovation sometimes comes from accidental “post-it” style inventions … but more often in the future it may come from using data to see around blind corners, anticipate new consumer demands and open new markets.
The bad news is, the confusion about big data will get worse before it gets better.  With each new enterprise wide cloud-centric marketing campaign adding its own spin to the buzz around “big data” – the real key will be to focus on personalizing, optimizing or innovating … and ignoring the everything else as big noise.


ePatient 2015: A New Research Report On The Connected Patient Of The Future


The FDA might be accidentally brilliant. Every now and then for the past several years, that thought has crossed my mind. Without context, it may seem like a strange conclusion to make about any government agency. For anyone who was there in DC on November 12, 2009 when the FDA held their first public hearing on social media marketing  - this…Read More >>

How To Create Visionary Measurement For Social Media


We often use the word “visionary” to describe leaders or companies, but rarely in connection to metrics. If the typical communications strategy is dispersed via Powerpoint within a large organization, usually measurement is the last slide before the end. We need to transform our relationship to measurement. The problem is, marketing people are typically guilty of seeing measurement as a…Read More >>

The Alignment Gap, Concierge Marketing And The Future Of Agencies


Summary: The story of why I decided to start the world’s first true “Concierge Marketing” service for large and mid-size brands. It all started because I knew the one thing I didn’t want to do. About three months ago I left my role at one of the biggest marketing agencies in the world and the only thing I knew for…Read More >>

How To Spot A Trend: 7 Social Media Trends That Matter In 2013


There has been a single pink folder on my desk since January 15th of this year. That day matters to me for two reasons – first because its my birthday, and second because it’s the day when I start an empty folder with the intention of collecting ideas for my year end trend report. Then throughout the year, I steadily…Read More >>

The Surprisingly Simple Secret of Social Advertising

The Surprisingly Simple Secret of Social Advertising

There is a military technique described by the acronym LTD which you should know about. It stands for Laser Targeting Designators and it is basically a laser light source which is used to designate a target. In other words, by "lasing targets" – you put a marker on something so that when you shoot at it, you are more likely…Read More >>

The Sexiness of Statistical Insignificance

The Sexiness of Statistical Insignificance

People love numbers. We respect #1 best sellers. We believe in a product if four out of five dentists like it. And every week there is new Presidential election polling in the US to give the media real time numbers to spend hours "reacting" to in live talk shows. In today's world, numbers are used to prove anything to anybody….Read More >>

5 Marketing Lessons From Uber (The World's Best Travel App)

5 Marketing Lessons From Uber (The World's Best Travel App)

Several weeks ago I was standing on a street corner in New York. (This is not the sentence I thought I'd start this post with, but go with me …) After unsuccessfully trying to hail a cab, I decided to try out an app I had heard about called Uber. I had heard it was useful for those kinds of…Read More >>

The Magic Button: Finding The Real Secret Formula For Social Media

The Magic Button: Finding The Real Secret Formula For Social Media

Let me tell you a secret I don't often share: I have a magic social media button. This button has only one special power: when I press it, I can immediately give you a million fans, followers or friends. You can choose whether you want this instant audience on Twitter or Facebook or some other site. They would have no…Read More >>

What You Should Know About Google For NonProfits

What You Should Know About Google For NonProfits

This afternoon in front of a packed room of nearly 200 nonprofit communicators in Washington DC, Google announced their most innovative and ambitious set of tools to help nonprofit organizations to succeed yet. Promising to offer $10,000 in free keyword advertising credits, branded channels and other extended premium features, the announcement of the Google for Nonprofits program divided the ways…Read More >>