Locating meaning from big data

29 Mar 2017

  • Analytics
  • Technology
  • Data

By: Brent Stafford, APAC Director, HERE

Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data are created. Whether it’s YouTube video uploads, social media posts or web browsing, every online transaction adds another drop to the vast data lake that every marketer is working hard to distil.

It’s near impossible to visualise what this ridiculous number actually means, but for marketers it’s not hard to conclude that a very high percentage of that data is useless to their business.

More devices, sensors and connectivity equals more data. But does more data, i.e. ‘big data’, mean more insight? Not without the right tools in place to add context and extract meaning.

With big data, it’s just as important to know what information should be discarded as it is to understand what’s of value. And the best way to derive this context is through the power of location.

Big data myth

Today’s hottest trends in data driven marketing and digital technology, like mobile, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, local search, delivery and ecommerce, are recognised as key tactics that can make or break sales.

At the heart of all these services and technologies — what’s commonly assumed to make them valuable — is big data. Herein lies the myth. Data alone is actually of little value to a marketer or their business; to gain insights you need context. And for context, you need location.

Collecting data for data’s sake won’t help your business to grow or, better understand or serve your customers.

In fact, amassing data without intention is actually a risky strategy. Siloed information is counterproductive. Instead, marketers need to be working to break down barriers between data owners and get smart about combining disparate data sets.

Location is the most unique and relevant characteristic to provide the context needed to make a data point more than just a blip from a device.

Unlocking the power of data

Take one of your potential customer’s daily commutes, for example. Understanding the fastest route that they might take home from work is a nice to have, but that data really shines when you combine it with where they might stop for a yoga class or where they meet a friend for dinner on the way.

Add to the picture further context that it’s their anniversary, there’s a sale at a local flower shop on their route and an available parking spot nearby — and now you have big data that’s valuable, timely and locally and contextually relevant.

What could you do differently with your business if you knew exactly where your customers and potential customers were travelling. How often they travelled a certain route, at what times and for how long. How could that knowledge better equip you to position your products and connect with your customers? 

By analysing data through the lens of location, marketers can achieve new levels of understanding about the people they are targeting, the places they live, work and travel, enabling promotional strategies that engage customers and position products in context.

Through our partnerships with leading consumer data analysts like Near.co and Experian and economists like HoustonKemp, HERE is helping businesses answer some of their most critical strategic questions, such as:

• Where can I find more customers?
• Where should I locate my new store?
• What does my customers’ typical journey look like?
• Would this be a good advertising location to attract customers?
• Where is the best place to attract my competitors customers?

Location is the answer

Since the term big data was coined in the 1990s, we’ve been trying to figure out how to leverage it. Now, there are more data points than ever before and with them, more confusion about how we gain true intelligence to build services that lead to customer satisfaction and sales.

At HERE, we are all about data. We already manage terabytes of it on behalf of our partners, so we know that location is the best way to turn information into insight.

It’s the ideal lens through which to aggregate, mine, combine and process different datasets to create value and answer the ‘so what’ question that’s so often on our minds when we are trying to make sense of all the information in our data arsenal.

So while ‘big data’ is often seen as the hero, it is context that identifies the all-important pieces of ‘little data’, or the hyperlocal information, such as real-time customer traffic, that truly creates a relevant and personalised experience for consumers in a dynamic mobile world.

By Brent Stafford is APAC Director of HERE, the Open Location Platform company, that enables people, enterprises and cities to harness the power of location.

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