8 things we learnt about big data analytics from the Adobe Summit

Nadia Cameron

big data

Big data is big news, and nowhere was this more apparent than at this year's Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City.

Here, we list eight things we took away about big data and data analytics from the event.

1. Organisations don't agree on the best way to deal with data

Data might be the common problem all organisations face in their quest to be more competitive, customer-centric, efficient and innovative, but the approach to tackling it is widely diverse.

As was made plain in a panel dispute between Fox Sports and Turner Broadcasting during Adobe Summit 2014, there is no clear agreement on how organisations handle digital disruption and the data explosion that has come with it. Representatives from the two sides sparred over whether to adopt a 'hub and spoke' approach to data analytics by investing in centralised, specialist teams, or to bring data insights and analytics capability into existing teams to better utilise.

There was also debate on when to invest in technology, what an 'operating system of data' actually entails, innovation versus disrupting existing revenue streams, and the extent to which organisations are able to rely on data insights.

"Traditionally, the people looking at the churn data sit in the research teams, in brands, ad serving teams. We recognised that to understand the physics and how we were engaging with customers, we had to bring that information together," explained turner Broadcasting Systems' senior director of analytics product strategy and data governance, Colin Coleman.

"You can't start integrating data together unless you're standardised. The unsexy part of this is building that foundation on top for a house of data. That was a big upfront investment, but necessary to unlock how to bring all that data together."

But until organisations have the "operating system of data", and see the clear correlation between data insights and significant bottom-line impact, Fox Sports chief digital officer, Jeff Misenti, said data utilisation is about serving the audience as best it can and protecting revenue streams.

"As much we believe the data will guide us into doing things, we are still making great leaps of faith," he said. "We're collecting all this information in the hopes it will lead us to new things, but so much is still based on gut feel.

"We haven't found the [data] haystack, so how can you expect to find the needle?"

2. There is an overarching framework you can utilise to make data actionable

Of course, a difference of opinion doesn't mean that there aren't clear steps you can take to improve data utilisation and, more importantly, take action.

According to Adobe, the five steps marketers should be using to improve their chances of actually getting value out of data for business decision-making are:

  1. Ingest - Connect, store and merge data in an organised fashion
  2. Distill insights- Turn that data into insights and put it through processes so you can do something with it
  3. Curate - Condense data insights into consumable packages for the business to use
  4. Syndicate - Deliver data back to the lines of business
  5. Optimise - Personalise data for different audiences, test and learn

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