After reading Tech Journal’s recent article “Big Data Comes with Big Obstacles for Some CIOs,” my advice to CIOs looking at Big Data as a challenge is to identify the keys to make the era that is upon us successful. One such key we’ve identified at Oversight is uniting multiple silos of data. And clearly one of the key silos is detailed information about your customers. The 2012 presidential election should provide the inspiration (or the fear if you don’t act) for gaining a deep understanding of your customers and prospects. The Obama campaign first united their own data sets on the electorate – they combined voter data with fundraising data as an example. They then incorporated external data sets. Further they found ways to work around privacy concerns with certain data sets by “anonymizing” the personally identifiable information. In their case that let them gain a deep understanding of television viewing habits. The important concept is they found a way to utilize every data set possible. And with this detailed picture they were able to target specific voters with the precise message most likely to convert votes for Obama. When an Obama campaign worker met with a voter they knew the pitch to use with that specific voter. When they sent a direct mail piece it contained a message meant for the individual addressee.
The power of Big Data is gaining the insights about specific events and opportunities and then to get those insights in the hands of the frontline. Detailed information about your customers (and your prospects and your vendors) is a prerequisite.