6 Ways to Prevent Big Data From Damaging Your Business

Big Data offers a multitude of opportunities to connect with customers in amazing new ways. Vast quantities of customer information are now flowing into businesses from social media, smartphones, bots, GPS devices, cameras, appliances, and satellites, and increasingly sophisticated computer algorithms are attempting to turn it all into actionable intelligence. Amid all the excitement, it should not be forgotten that few business people—even C-level executives—truly understand what a revolutionary force Big Data is, or the disruptive threat it represents for businesses of all kinds.

As you work with your CMO to take maximum advantage of all the customer insight opportunities Big Data offers, keep in mind that the devil in Big Data could be in these overlooked details.

1. Secure your data. For companies that are collecting and storing vast amounts of customer data, the most obvious threat is a massive security breach of the sort that has plagued Sony, Anthem, Target and many more. Hundreds of companies have experienced data breaches just in the past few years, all because the people hacking into corporate databases have been more ingenious and persistent than the people trying to keep them out.

“Better cybersecurity means committing to a long-term investment in the infrastructure and personnel needed to safeguard what is rapidly becoming every organization’s most important asset.”

The Solution: Better cybersecurity doesn’t just mean a well-intentioned policy review—it means committing to a long-term investment in the infrastructure and personnel needed to safeguard what is rapidly becoming every organization’s most important asset.

2. Try not to drown. Big Data isn’t just more information; it’s tsunamis of information coming from all directions at once, and at speeds and volumes humanity has never seen before. The possibility of drowning in all of it is very real. So is the possibility of wasting a lot of your staff’s time, energy and resources wading through oceans of irrelevant information. The challenge going forward will be ensuring your CTO has the right tools to extract only the data your company needs and to strip out the data it doesn’t.

The Solution: Query your chief marketing officer about the kinds of data that are most important for conversions and sales. Ask him or her to explain your data parameters. Ask questions, such as: If you could communicate with a customer, in real time, at the moment they are deciding between your brand and someone else’s, what would you say to them—and how? Knowing how to answer that question will help prioritize the data your company collects.

3. Don’t get outsmarted. It has never been easier for a few people with an idea to mount a competitive challenge to even the most established business—and in the era of Big Data, size is not necessarily a strength. Big Data can open up cracks and fissures in the marketing landscape that others can easily exploit. Anyone who tries can be a potential competitive threat, if not an existential one.

The Solution: No matter your company size, at least part of your organization must operate as if it is hungry and nimble. Energy needs to go into market research, competitive intelligence, and ear-to-the-Internet scouting. When change is swift and constant, competitive threats can come out of nowhere, in no time, and do a great deal of damage.


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