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Data, data everywhere, with the space to think

SEPTEMBER 26, 2011 – One of the main benefits of the internet has been the capability to acquire vast amounts of data from online market research, as well as measuring consumer behavior, parsing social media websites, sending out emails and more. However, that may also be the source of one of the biggest challenges – storing that data, and making sense of it all.

Mick James of Top Consultant puts it well, writing that “They say the devil is in the detail, but increasingly the answer is in the data.” However, he says that since the amount of data in the world is already pushing past a zettabyte, finding that answer could prove more difficult than searching for a needle in a haystack. With statistics and figures on everything from a customer’s loyalty card spending habits to which blogger retweeted a company’s post on Twitter, businesses have mountains of data in their laps and need a way to sift through it. This requires some automation, but also human input, James reports.

Catching patterns in the data can help companies anticipate their customers’ next moves, such as switching to a competitor. The source gives the example of one retailer that analyzed data from its loyalty cards to find that approximately three months after ceasing to buy an item such as toothpaste, customers would end the program. Ray Eitel-Porter, of Opera Solutions, told the source that because toothpaste is something people have to restock fairly regularly, “it’s an early warning sign that a customer is already going to a competitor, and you can jump in with an intervention strategy.”

That vast amount of data is likely to only get larger, as Facebook recently announced its new push to deepen people’s connection to the social media platform and expand how much they share on it.

“A lot of these enhancements open up the visibility of people’s passions,” Blake Cahill, CEO of social media agency Banyan Branch, told Forbes. “This should make it a lot easier to do ad targeting”

As the news source reports, every action on Facebook will create vast quantities of data on what users want and need. There is a new tool on the website’s ad system, Action Spec, which will help marketers integrate people’s online activity with personalized advertising pitches.