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The Embarrassment of Big Data Riches and the Dilemma that it poses.

by Michael Maoz  |  March 20, 2013  |  1 Comment

If I had to pick a time when the modern world began, it would be Holland in the 17th century. Back in 1987, Simon Schama wrote a brilliant history of the Dutch entitled, The Embarrassment of Riches, and in his work he describes how a combination of open immigration policy, open markets and industrious and well educated people allowed a tiny country to emerge a powerhouse.

Looking out over the categories of analytics tools that have emerged over the past five years, we seem to be entering a Golden Age of Information. The glut, overflow, surfeit, and/or your favourite way to classify our excess of data means that this Age comes not a moment too soon. Looking at the variety of data: embedded sensors in objects ranging from bridges to automobiles to mobile phones to clothing, and video feeds, audio, speech, text – in a wide range of formats and from an almost infinite array of devices – we have our work cut out for us.

Here is where many clients struggle: when listening to the vendors, the words bandied about overlap: Big Data, Analytics, Personalization, Presence, Contextual, Decision Support, Mining….,. The fact is: they are all right. But one of the disciplines that Larry Ellison instilled in his marketing folks has always been: if someone else could use the same term, then it’s not good enough for us.

I’m updating the list of analytics vendors who improve customer engagement – making it more intentional, more based on a complete view of the customer and his/her history with the enterprise. In each of the 12 major categories there can be three to 23 vendors for each area. An example? Social Analytics. I look at just a few of the vendors, but colleagues like Carol Rozwell would look at eight times that number.

So here is a suggestion: look at the opportunities where your business could do a much better job at driving higher revenue per customer, or helping drive their loyalty, and start there. Don’t ‘go big.’ Go small, go incremental, see what works and how the bits fit together. Big Data is just emerging, and we are entering a period where great things will be possible. Now we need a cartographer to map the solutions across all customer-facing interactions.

I guess that means it’s time to get to work – we encourage your ideas as well!

Category: analytics-for-social-crm  applications  cio  innovation-and-customer-experience  social-crm  strategic-planning  


Thoughts on The Embarrassment of Big Data Riches and the Dilemma that it poses.


  1. Blair Cook says:

    “Don’t ‘go big.’ Go small, go incremental, see what works and how the bits fit together. ”

    You can’t lose the trees for the forest! Big Data can be great but it can also drown you in the sheer amount of information to comb through. What do you really need to know? How can you make your business use Big Data to stand out?



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