Understanding the 4 V’s of Big Data for Data-Driven Marketing
Big data is on everyone’s mind today, but not many people understand the basics of this still infantile new science. Big data can be extremely useful for those who know how to wield it properly, but for others it remains a complex and mysterious form of witchcraft. For business owners, business analysts, and marketers who are keen on gaining a better understanding of big data, it’s important to start with a firm grasp of the “4 V’s.”
Big data gets its name for the same reason that the McDonald’s Big Mac or New York City’s nickname “Big Apple” all start with the word big – they’re pretty large. Big data consists of all the bits and bytes of information swirling around in the ether of fiber optic cables, hard-drives, servers, and now cloud-based storage. Because the internet and technological capabilities are so new, we’re only just beginning to create more digital data. However, as time goes on, more people have more access to technologies to create new data, and it’s estimated that humanity is now creating this new data at an exponential rate.
But not all data is the same. Structured data is simple and easy to work with from a computing and analysis standpoint. This type of traditional data includes simple things like dates, names, and numbers to describe a certain quantity of something. However, not all data is structured anymore. Unstructured data is much more unruly by nature and doesn’t fit neatly into any type of particular category. Think of this type of data as something like a web page, or a Facebook post, or even something like personal health metrics. The difficulty with unstructured data is that it can be hard to analyze, although proper analysis of such data can produce some profound insights.
In all things in business, it’s always good to be just a little bit skeptical. Big data is no different. While it can provide you with the kind of guidance your business may need to make some big decisions, knowing how trustworthy your data is and whether or not it has been analyzed properly can mean the difference between making a big mistake or catching yourself before you fall. Making sense of data can be a difficult task, and for this reason the old carpenter’s motto should be remembered: “Measure twice, cut once.”
Data is always accruing all around us, but some of it comes and goes more rapidly than others. For example, you’re naturally going to have a lot more data points for clicks to your site than you will for the number of people who purchase your products. Velocity refers to how frequently these new kinds of data come in, which in turn affects how quickly you need to be analyzing them if you expect to make the best use of them.
Finally, all of this great information discovered through big data is useless if it won’t provide some valuable insights or information. It can require a lot of time and money to devise big data systems and derive something useful from them, and if this information isn’t going to be used for any sort of greater business objectives, you might as well be using a Ouija board as a professional business consultant to save yourself some money. However, for those who wish to expand their businesses and gain greater efficiencies, big data should be used as the basis for a data-driven marketing strategy.