The Summer, 2013, Issue of Kellogg Magazine (published by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University) includes "Embracing a Big Data Mindset" in which Florian Zettelmeyer, professor of marketing at Kellogg and an expert in data analytics, talks about the mindset that organizations such as Reader's Digest, Capital One, Amazon and Facebook all have in common. He calls it the "Big Data Mindset" and says it encompasses four elements:
- Designing marketing processes with data in mind
- Engaging in research and development everywhere
- Using predictive analytics
- Challenging conventional wisdom
I highly recommend you check out the article at the link above, and while you're there, look into the other articles on big data in that issue of Kellogg. I would also broaden Professor Zettelmeyer's first element to "Designing all processes with data in mind," not just "marketing processes." We need to get out of our PR and marketing towers and understand our entire organizations if we wish to add value.
My recent reading about big data suggests the key to it is really analytics. I believe our focus should be on that rather than "Big Data" per se.
Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris, in their marvelous book Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, write that "Analytics" means:
That the power of big data is really in analytics brings us back to the point I tried to make in my most recent post ("Big or Little as Long as It's Data"): PR organizations -- both agencies and organizational practitioners -- need to be data- and insight-driven to succeed in the evolving business environment. It doesn't really matter whether the data is big or small, as long as it is good data and managed according to best practices to generate insights that lead to more effective business decisions and communications programs.
Going to a top management meeting without analytics to support your recommendations and demonstrate your results will be like going into a pro football game wearing sandals and carrying a Nerf football. At best, you won't be taken seriously; at worst, you'll be carried out on a stretcher.