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

Nadia Cameron

One of the challenges many organisations have in common is where to start with big data. Digital Clarity Group's Scott Liewehr suggested the best place to get started is by utilising data insights to optimise what you're doing already.

"How can you support what you're doing already and optimise that, as well as do it better," he asked. "For example, if you've started a process to segment the audience in some way: What data can help you understand whether or not the segments are in fact accurate? How can I take what I'm doing, where I'm making some assumptions, and validate those through data? That's a relatively easy first step to bringing data-driven decision making into your organisation."

Live Nation's Jonathan Watts also outlined a three-step process his company uses to make sure it's actioning data well:

  1. Decide what's important: Choose what you can test. "What are the big questions that can drive your company forward," he advised. "Don't even think about the data; just ask what are the things that can make a difference to your business, then worry about the data limitations later."
  2. Create and test smaller hypotheses using 'medium-sized' data tests: This will give you a good idea of whether the answer is A or B. "It doesn't have to be perfect," Watts adds. "Use available data and don't wait".
  3. Build a production 'big data solution'. This tool set and insights should then be democratised through your organisation to be used most effectively, Watts said.

To ensure her organisation has the people and process in place to utilise data insights, AOL's senior marketing director, Jennifer Towns, said the group has brought testing and optimisation into every aspect of consumer engagement and content delivery.

"What we know about our customers is driving the experiences, offers, products as are giving them, and the content. And it's very personalised," Towns said. "When we do this, we see huge increases in our core KPI. And at any point in time, if you deliver a lift on an experience, reduce churn, or drive more search volume, it's a very easy sell to the executives that data matters."

5. Technology investment is a must if you're hoping to utilise data successfully

To really get on top of multiple data sets, however, you are going to need technology; and lots of it. Lenovo director of global business intelligence, Ashish Braganza, outlined how the PC manufacturer has created a big data technology stack and customer intelligence platform nicknamed 'Luci in the Sky' (Lenovo Unified Customer Intelligence platform) to tackle the challenges of processing massive swathes of customer data from more than 60 data sources daily into actionable insight. These data sets include SAP, the Lenovo.com website, customer surveys, call centre information and various other sources.

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