The buzzword ‘big data’ has been around for some time now. While many companies harness big data to inform operational decisions, how many of them use it to shape their communication efforts, and do they fully understand the potential?
In today’s rapidly evolving digital economy, using big data strategically is a must for brands that want to differentiate and remain relevant with their stakeholders. Not only can it drive innovation and inform better business decisions, it can also uncover opportunities for disruption and enhancing the customer experience.
Big data is clearly important, so why might a company be failing to reap the benefits?
- It’s complicated
Understanding big data and how to effectively use it to inform communication and, more broadly, brand positioning, can be complicated. Often companies do not have the skillset to successfully implement it in-house, limiting the potential.
Acknowledging the need for specialist skills is the first step towards extracting better value from data. Engaging a data analyst to audit and then design and deploy the right tools to extract the right data and interpret it in the right way will establish the platform for success.
- It’s not just about big data
Great leaders of the future will know that if big data is king, thick data is queen.
Where big data is the computational analysis of large data sets, revealing quantitative information including patterns, trends, and associations, thick data is qualitative information that provides insights and rationality behind the trends.
Thick data goes beyond big data to explain why stakeholders have certain preferences, the reasons they behave the way they do, why certain trends stick and so on.
For many companies focusing all their attention and efforts on big data, thick data is the missing piece of the puzzle and has the potential to uncover insights — such as why consumers do what they do — that cannot be achieved from big data alone.
- Big data is central to good communication
While big data is transforming the world of business, its potential in the communication field is often overlooked.
Unbeknown to some, big data is increasingly central to good communication. Specifically, it can help organisations develop key messages and content which resonate with their audiences — reinforcing their brand positioning, relevance and authenticity. But it doesn’t stop there.
As big data is central to good communication, communication is central to thick data. The gut instincts and knowledge that comes from monitoring commentators — journalists, influencers, other key stakeholders — helps inform the interpretation of big data.
Understanding the landscape in which the information has been harvested requires human interpretation that no automated platform currently provides.
- Choosing the right analysis tools is critical
With a host of tools to choose from, analysing big data can be overwhelming and time consuming. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of tools on the market which make it easy and efficient, particularly when the focus is on informing brand, corporate positioning and strategy.
For many companies, a great starting point is a process known as ‘sentiment analysis’ or ‘opinion mining’, which provides a quick and reliable snapshot of the attitudes, opinions and emotions of stakeholders, expressed within an online mention of a brand.
- Creating a compelling business case can be tough
Data and insights are only as powerful as what you do with them, and for many companies putting forward a compelling business case which justifies the need to invest in big data can be tough.
There are a number of ways companies can use and monetise data — it’s just about being creative. For many business leaders, this can be perceived as risky and a fear of failure goes hand-in-hand with an organisation’s lack of understanding about how to maximise its data.
At Rowland, we are now using our specialist data analysis tools on behalf of a range of clients in many sectors. We are finding the richness of insight we uncover is often a revelation to our clients, and also adds genuine value to communication and brand strategies.
The tools we use and the detail we dig up are helping our clients (and us) to think ‘outside the square’ when planning effective campaigns.