This article on 10 key best practices for marketers to explore the big data opportunity first appeared on the SAS Institute blog. It is republished here with permission from author Tamara Dull, Director Emerging Technologies, who spoke on this subject at NCMD13: Where Marketing Meets Big Data.


Big data. It’s arguably one of the most overhyped buzzwords this past year, especially in technology and marketing circles. Yet regardless of what we know or think about big data, or whether we’ll even be using the term in a few years, the fact still remains: We are awash in data—big and small, structured and unstructured—and our ability to process, analyze, and manage this data is directly correlated to our incumbent understanding of the data’s rich value. The quest to discover this hidden value in our data is what the big data journey is all about.

Going Beyond the 3Vs

How many articles, blog posts, webcasts, or presentations on big data have you read or listened to these past two years that’s referenced Gartner’s 3Vs – volume, variety, velocity – of big data? I suspect “a lot.”

Moreover, vendors, analysts, and consultants alike have taken the liberty to expand this list, adding such V’s as value, veracity, variability, and viability, just to name a few. Framing the big data discussion around 3, 4, 7, or even 15 V’s can be problematic for marketers, however, because it doesn’t get them any closer to finding the hidden value in their data – only understanding why it’s so hard to find. This is where the big data archipelago can help.

The big data archipelago centers the discussion around 10 key topics: analytics, processing, integration, open source adoption, location, data governance, data security, people, investment, and strategy. Note that these topics are not new. In fact, they’re the same data topics marketers have been discussing for decades. While familiar, they’re also complicated and often treacherous.

Let the Big Data Journey Begin

The big data journey is not for the faint of heart. Preparation is key and traveling alone is ill-advised. So I invite you to join me in this 10-post blog series as we navigate the ten islands in the big data archipelago. On each island, we’ll take a look at how big data is changing some of the best practices we’ve developed around our traditional data, and more importantly, the key takeaways for marketers.

  1. Analytics and Big Data: Discover the Unknown Unknowns
  2. Processing and Big Data: Take Advantage of Big Data Technologies
  3. Integration and Big Data: Use the Best Tools for the Job
  4. Open Source Adoption and Big Data: Take It Seriously
  5. Location and Big Data: Allow Data to Reside Where It Will Provide Value
  6. Data Governance and Big Data: Tackle It One Project at a Time
  7. Data Security and Big Data: Treat Data as a Corporate Asset
  8. People and Big Data: Focus on Individual Roles and Skills
  9. Investment and Big Data: Calculate Intangible ROI
  10. Strategy and Big Data: Achieve Community and Global Goals

Regardless of where you are on the big data journey—just starting out, on your way, or still at home—remember that hidden treasures of valuable insight abound and are waiting to be discovered in the big data archipelago.

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Join the DMA marketing analytics community at NCDM15 at the fabulous Palmer House Hilton in Chicago in February 2015.  More info and to register on our website.
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