Big companies have a dilemma with the new generation of big data tech. There are a wealth of new opportunities to create value from an increased understanding of the consumer. We now have social data which can map interests, habits, personalities and needs. For example we can find when a diabetes patient is experiencing difficulty with their blood sugar levels. We can determine the moment someone’s car breaks down. We can find when people start thinking about planning holidays. We can even cookie the consumer having discovered these needs and follow them around with targeted advertising. We can take our dusty database of emails and a create revolutionary dimension of better marketing opportunities.
But clients are still near-overwhelmed by the scale of the transformation. There are so many options in improving marketing that it is hard to know where to start. European corporate IT investment has only in the last year been recovering to 2008 levels. Two thirds of that spend is on maintenance and mandatory spending.
There is one bright spot. As cloud services develop (projected to rise 40% this year) they are allowing the owners of IT budgets to side step the big capital outlays of the past and innovate. A transformational change which previously involved the deployment of expensive server infrastructure can now be achieved by using the growing number of cloud based services which align use with cost. Yammer, Salesforce and Dropbox are just a few of the businesses that are seeing growth based on this phenomenon.
Knowledge management can be improved by using a SaaS-based collaboration framework (even if it means phasing out internal email). Customer relationship management can be improved by adding incremental layers of profiling, from cloud-based services, to existing data records, or by incrementally shifting those records into a cloud-based CRM (here is a survey). Compliance can be addressed by shifting expensive data storage into external machines and indexing it using cloud-based analytics.
The important change from a marketing standpoint is that a live, cloud-based approach to dealing with customer needs is much more effective than the previous approaches to segmentation. By tracking customers at the point where their needs are identified live, enterprises can ensure that their marketing efforts are welcomed, not rebuffed. And by dealing with a universe of millions of customer records, a few thousand at a time, based on their stage in the buying cycle, businesses can do a much better job of responding to customer demand. The benefit is that the CIO has a lower upfront bill, and more actionable datapoints for their investment.