A Big Day of Data

By Jonathan De Wet, CUBED Communications

CUBED recently managed a creative campaign for ADMA promoting one of their flagship events – Data Day 2012. Mike and I were lucky enough to score tickets to the event, and I have to say – what a stellar day it was!

The event was structured around the concept of  “big data”, with presenters and workshops delving into this abstract notion. So what is big data? Big data is a term for data sets that are so large and complex that they become difficult to analyse, make sense of and generate insights from. Big data is growing fast. Really fast! In fact, if you were to collect every single piece of data from the dawn of civilisation to 2003, be it cave paintings, written word, film, computer coding, grandma’s recipe for apple strudel, there would be approximately 5 exabytes of data. Now, we create that amount of data every seven days. Wow right? And it’s getting bigger, faster.

So how can we as a business make sense of all this chaos? Gigabytes of infrared video data exploring what, where and how people purchase your products at different times of the day; 550 Facebook likes that place a cookie from a YouTube clip monitoring your click path directly after the like; geospatial, time sensitive data from the time you leave your house, to the time you return; credit card data that not only provides purchasing habits, but real-time connections to lifestyle through advanced artificial intelligence driven data mining and analytics. This is intense stuff! Data day inspired as many questions as it provided answers – great for businesses looking to solve niggling data problems as well as generating new ideas.

Kevin Callahan, Cofounder of MapMyFitness, inspired participants to look deeply into their business’ data for ways to improve connectivity and business models. Geo-location data from app users on walks, jogs and bike rides doesn’t only provide data on routes and popular areas, but also time sensitive information showing where people congregate at certain times and the duration they are there for. This data can then be extrapolated into marketing plans for businesses. For example, say cyclists congregate for coffee at a certain location before continuing on. A sport store around the corner could send real-time advertising to their portable device at certain times and locations. From Kevin’s perspective, the data collection process is imperative for his business, as it provides ongoing sustainable revenue streams after users have paid the one off fee for his app.

What I found most fascinating is the move from the collection of historical data, analysis and trend spotting – to the real-time collection and analysis data that is being created, shared and expanded on the web. Matt Kuperholz, Partner from the Deloitte Analytics Group, gave an example whereby connectivity and social capital can be created and optimised by analysing networks real-time. “The value of the network is more than the sum of its individual parts.”  This is most visibly illustrated through social media. Now given that the network grows organically, sentiment about a product or service will grow positively or negatively within this network. Now if you can monitor and analyse this network real-time – you have a mutually beneficial system, both for the business and the consumer.

This is cutting edge stuff – you could have someone sitting in an airport lounge tweeting a negative comment about her experience. Traditionally, this may have been picked up a few weeks later after the story had gone viral and grown. However, real-time mining and analytics could pick up the negative sentiment within minutes, and have to issue fixed there and then, thereby stemming the growth of uncontrolled negative sentiment.

CUBED’s very own Cofounder, Mike Chuter, provided the perfect segway between data collection and analysis, and achieving stakeholder buy-in to the insights generated. At the heart of Mike’s presentation was the premise that we are all wired differently, from the finance guru to the creative department – the big question is, how can we present insights in a way that ensures understanding and engagement in an age where society is becoming increasingly conceptual? Key to this is inspiring engagement through whole brain motivators – the magic number 3, the senses and simplicity.  By presenting data in a way that is conceptual, understandable and easy to decode, we provide our audience with the greatest opportunity and motivation to elaborate and engage with key insights from data. Which, after all, is the overarching purpose of mining the data in the first place right?!

All in all an inspirational day, that has fed new ideas and possibilities for CUBED, as well as providing some tools to approach newer complex data problems. The brekkie was delicious too – thanks ADMA!

Article written by Jonathan de Wet, Account Executive, CUBED Communications

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