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At Hub Convene, panelists debate the effectiveness of Big Data

The perennial topic of Big Data came under the spotlight during a panel entitled “Is Big Data Working?” at the inaugural Hub Convene conference in San Francisco on Monday.

The panel, moderated by The Hub’s senior editor Omar Akhtar, attempted first to define what exactly Big Data is, before extrapolating the concept into the benefits it can offer to businesses of all types.

Gina Casagrande, lead evangelist for Adobe Target/Marketing Cloud, defined Big Data through the lens of volume, velocity, and variety of data.

She said customers see a 4-5% lift using Adobe’s automated recommendations, citing one who uncovered an issue on its shopping cart that caused Google Chrome users to abandon the process more than others due to a problem with flagging insecure info.

“We are all big data,” said Casagrande. “The more important factor is smart data and how you leverage it to take action.” She recommended marketers use predictive analytics to uncover the data that matters.

Adobe launched its Master Marketing Profile product last week to help connect data sets with customers. It is designed to leverage the voice of the customer through surveys, social, mobile, and video, and to tie marketing into analytics.

“Leveraging real-time data and connecting those data sets effectively has been a challenge,” said Casagrande. “And you have to empower creatives to leverage data to inform their work and see what is effective. It will move the creative forward and drive personalization.”

Gal Borenstein, CEO of The Borenstein Group, said the phrase Big Data is both “meaningful” and “meaningless.” He advises marketers to sit in the boardroom with the CFO, CIO, and CEO with a word cloud that allows them to understand what their customers are saying. “Do it in two minutes, rather than a full day,” he adds. “Try to get those three individuals in same room to sell to them. Start with the business impact you’re trying to get to. CEOs want to know what they don’t know.”

Gordon Evans, VP of product marketing at Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, said the true opportunity is for “really small data.” “It can drive insight and then relevancy, to drive results,” he added.

“There’s something galvanizing about taking data and making a picture of it,” said Evans. “It’s a ‘heat map’ for C-level executives to grasp instantly what’s happening.”

Evans cited Salesforce client Cisco as a good example of this working effectively in practice. “They listen to conversations about Cisco very broadly, then to more detailed point-of-need conversations, and display them in a user-friendly way,” he said. “They then route the conversations to the right place in the organization, whether that is leads, fraud, or product questions.” This approach has resulted in a 200% ROI over one year.

For StubHub’s director of marketing Michael Lattig, Big Data is an essential part of its e-commerce set-up, helping the online ticket marketplace to deliver a hyper-personal experience to users.

“Platforms are not the problem,” he said. “It’s having the right people in the organization to properly utilize it. We need big data to sell the idea and investment into the boardroom, rather than to sell the creative to consumers.”

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