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How Big Data Becomes Better Decisions: The Insight Hunter’s Role

May 2, 2013

This post is excerpted from an article in the Spring 2013 issue of AMA’s Marketing Insights.

The big challenge of Big Data — as with so many things – is the ability to focus not on what is possible, but what is meaningful. With so much information at their fingertips, marketers can, and often do, fall into the “more is better” fallacy: One could argue that the movement to big scorecards, where we just keep adding new information streams in the hopes of uncovering new relationships, has caused more problems than it has solved.

Marketers don’t need another set of key performance indicators that correlate to KPIs they’ve already got. Number of tweets correlates to brand sales – interesting, but so what? How does Twitter fit into a company’s overall marketing or customer relationship management strategy?

This new world is a challenge for researchers as well as marketers. Researchers are used to seeing data gathering as a key activity. Done well, quality data gathering is the foundation for quality insights. However, we now have access to more raw information than we know what to do with. Researchers can’t simply be data engineers now, but must be insight hunters.

The insight hunter’s first job is stitching together information and patterns from different sources into an information ecosystem. To have value, Big Data needs to be sorted by big thinkers – people who understand the dynamics of the market and can recognize what has relevance.

A core truth of information ecosystems is that one user’s extraordinary insight is another’s waste of time. Just as there are patterns within data, we can also find categories of insights – and users to match those categories. Bringing relevant data to the right users is the insight hunter’s second key task.

Finally, insight hunters need to create pathways to action — and that starts with an understanding of the business’s strategy. Research initiatives are always more successful when they are clearly tied to business objectives and to strategy. This is an imperative in the Big Data environment, where the choices and possibilities are boundless.

To read the full article in the AMA’s Marketing Insights, click here.

David Krajicek is CEO of GfK Consumer Experiences North America.


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