Marketers continue to struggle with Big Data as evidenced by the upcoming IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study. IBM, the world’s largest technology company, conducted about 500 in-depth face-to-face interviews with CMO’s from companies of various sizes, across a wide range of industries and regions. The study found that feeling the most under-prepared when it comes to the idea of Big Data rose to the top, the same concern that rose to the top in the inaugural CMO study two years ago.
“That’s telling,” says Paul Papas, managing partner of the new IBM Interactive Experience practice. “We expected to see progress over the last two years. It’s an explosion in the volume of data and the data sources contributing to a continued under-preparedness. The space has moved faster than marketers can keep up with it and the complexity of the analytics that are required to make sense of the data and then put it into action.”
Three main factors are in play for marketers to be better prepared to manage the speed and complexity of managing big data, he says. First, clients recognizing “you can’t go it alone,” and that who you choose to partner with to help achieve the mission is critical.
“It’s usually an ecosystem because skills have become so highly specialized,” Papas says.
Second, there is a need to refocus on skill development, how to take your own and your teams’ skills and invest in the skills that are required today and into the future including mobile, digital and analytics. “There’s a lot of combinations of building this new skill set,” he says.
Finally, there’s the concept of speed and rapid iterations. “Test things out. Run pilots really fast, proof of concepts really fast, adaptations fast and stop fast if things aren’t working and learn from it,” Papas says.
IBM’s new Interactive Experience practice is the result of big market shifts the company has seen over the last 12 to 18 months.
“All the advances in analytics, cloud computing, social, mobile, the app ecosystem, everyone being always on and available has all flipped everything on its head,” he says. “All of these forces and the focus on the human experience and changing technology was driving that convergence of the digital agency space and consulting space. In response we brought these two groups together and added capabilities focusing on the customer experience.”
“Our clients are all trying to reinvent customer experiences and address customers in a more personal, seamless, immersive way, in some cases looking for bold transformation,” Papas says. “The heart of it has been around experience. If you just think through the lens of customers you think too narrowly to think of them as people and how you fit into the context of their lives and the value you add and how you can help them more. It’s a broader human view and the need for human experience that is highly personalized and contextual.”
As part of the announcement of the new practice, the group released a number of new data-driven capabilities for the C-suite including Life Event Detection, which analyzes unstructured social media data to detect important events in customers’ lives. Behavioral Pricing, an algorithm that combines behavioral models on consumer response to pricing, such as ‘surprise’ and ‘thrill of a deal’, with historical transaction data to help retailers design personalized pricing strategies that help consumers make purchasing decisions and improve their experience. And Psycholinguistic Analytics is an algorithm that combines the psychology of language with social media data to understand inherent personality traits of individuals and identify their preferences. This technology goes beyond generalizations and recognizes the individuals to identify how they prefer to receive and consume information and offers. For example, if a call center receives a call from a customer who sounds very stressed, that call can be routed to agents identified as being good with empathy.
“You start seeing untapped potential in that personalization and how helpful that will be for all of us as humans,” he says.
IBM implemented Big Data analytics for the U.S. Open last year. Fans used this information and insight to become their own tennis analysts, seeking out information they personally wanted to understand, digest and share
IBM has also taken the lead in driving a standard around digital data collection with the WC3, an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the web. IBM chairs and coordinates a working group that includes Best Buy, Google Blue Cross and Adobe among about 60 others. The first version of its report came out in December that included digital data collection specifications. The next step is to take the report to a formal WC3 work group, which will set it on the road to become standard endorsed by WC3.
“It’s well on its way to becoming a standard,” says Jay Henderson, IBM global strategy director.