It's hard for most people to comprehend the scale on which data is being created. Every 48 hours the world generates 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes) of data. That's equal to the amount of data in existence up to the year 2003! Most of the data that is generated - around three-quarters of it - is unstructured. That means it's messy and doesn't fit into easily definable categories the way structured data like identification numbers or addresses do.
Despite the unstructured nature of much of the data being generated, technology is constantly evolving to be able to take it in, analyze it, and help people develop insights based on it. That's the promise of big data marketing. Generation of better business outcomes should be the principle that governs how businesses use big data. And when marketing data doesn't deliver business outcomes, what good is it? Data quality is at the heart of how useful big data can be.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Data?
It's safe to say there's "too much" data when some of it is inaccurate, redundant, or erroneous. Data itself is ultimately a bunch of ones and zeroes stored electronically, and unless it's processed with carefully developed analysis tools, it's of no use to anyone. It's only when data is converted into information understandable by humans that it earns its keep. Unfortunately, businesses spend a lot of money on data they can't use. Inc.com says that up to $50 billion per year is spent on data that can't be used.
When a company collects only the marketing data they actually need and will use, they can save on the costs of storage and processing. They can also reduce the chances of making unwise business decisions that come about from analyzing poor quality data. As data grows, control and accessibility become more important, so companies should be certain they can handle the amount of data they acquire.
How to Avoid Data Overload
There are several ways that businesses can avoid being overloaded with data they cannot use. One way is to start small with big data. Define a small number of key questions you want answers to and determine what kind of data would answer those questions. With so much data available, it's tempting to collect as much as possible because it might someday be useful. But then you risk paying to store data you never use or end up having to undertake major IT projects to develop tools to analyze the data. Instead, focus on metrics that will get you closer to defined goals and gather the data that can help you do that. Data's not going away, and you can always acquire more later.
Make Your Data Really Count
It's also important to make the data you have really work for you. Data quality is the key to doing this. Sourcing data is important, but so is taking care of data once you acquire it. The passage of time causes data accuracy to decrease, as people change addresses or enter different phases of life. What you need is a data cleansing strategy to ensure that data is as free of errors as possible, as complete as possible, as up-to-date as possible, and that it's not redundant. Just as a gourmet recipe requires high quality ingredients for the best taste, for big data marketing to succeed, it has to use data of the highest quality.
To ensure high data quality many businesses turn to data cleansing solutions like those offered by ReachForce, which automatically and regularly cleanse data, ensuring that it is as timely, accurate, and complete as possible. Great marketing data is what drives great business outcomes.
Too much data can lead to confusion and poor decision-making. It also costs money to store, and when it's processed, the outcome can't be trusted unless you know the data is of high quality. It's more important for businesses to gather the right data and to ensure that data is clean, without duplicates and errors, and as complete as possible. This is the only way big data marketing can drive the insights that deliver on promises. ReachForce is a solution that unifies, cleanses, and enriches data, giving companies a single, reliable source of truth on which to base decisions, because more important than the quantity of data is the quality of data.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.
To learn more about how ReachForce can help you optimize demand generation and your impact on revenue, check out our real-time web form enrichment demo, or request a free marketing data diagnostic. Get the power to let data drive marketing and higher performance.