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Big data in marketing: Passing power from businesses to consumers

There is a shift taking place in the business world, as big data in marketing empowers customers over companies.

The days of clumping customers together based on zip code, age and income are falling by the wayside, thanks to the power of big data integration. Instead, chief marketing officers are getting personal. Business leaders are using personal data to better understand -- and serve -- customers. IT leaders, too, need to be aware of the shift taking place with big data in marketing if they want to keep up with trends.

Robert Dayton of MainStream Analytics at Big Data TechCon 2014 in Cambridge, Mass.Robert Dayton,
MindStream Analytics

At Big Data TechCon 2014 in Cambridge, Mass., MindStream Analytics Executive Vice President Robert Dayton discussed how big data integration, the cloud, and consumer engagement are prompting business leaders to focus more on technology investments if they want to succeed.

Keeping pace with consumers

Consumers are engaging with businesses and each other around the clock, and even more importantly, the information shared between them can have a profound impact. "The user-generated review, the user-generated content, is a phenomenon that is fiercely influential," Dayton said. "It trumps marketing in terms of formal advertising and formal messages from the company."

It's not just positive or negative comments or reviews that consumers aren't afraid to share via Twitter, Facebook and online bulletin boards. Consumers are willing to divulge everything, from their preferred brand of orange juice to their specific geological location -- as long as there is a payoff.

They expect personalization and customization in return for their information.

Robert Dayton

Most customers are sophisticated and have a certain amount of business savvy to understand the relationship between their data and what they can get in return for it, Dayton said. "These new types of customers, this new global culture -- not defined by age, not defined by geography -- they expect personalization and customization in return for their information," he said.

Using big data in marketing

With big data integration technology, marketers can pick up on certain actionable patterns and design a solution to result in better business outcomes. An example would be predictive analytics, where if a company knows an individual's purchasing patterns, it can predict what he or she may buy next. Along the same vein is prescriptive analytics, where a recommended action can be made based on previous decisions.

While clearly businesses can use big data in marketing to help design better campaigns to entice shoppers, consumers may end up saving cash, too. With pricing optimization, Dayton said retailers can offer consumers the right product at the right price. A store manager, for example, can find out what competing stores are charging for a specific product and set prices accordingly.

What big data means for IT

With business leaders realizing major profits are at stake, it's imperative IT professionals are equipped with the skills and thought process necessary to best make use of big data. It's important businesses don't take for granted their customers willingness to divulge details about themselves, for example. Dayton noted there is a "very particular and pronounced consequence" when consumer trust is eroded by security flaws. "When you put together social, mobile and security," Dayton said, "security pervades everything."

Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA and can be reached at

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Do you think your organization is effectively using big data in marketing?
I've recently taken a gig as the community manager at Big Data Forum and have found how little companies do use big data in their marketing efforts. With so much information available to sales and marketing, you would think that people would leverage some of this to inform their efforts, messaging and budgets. Maybe people will come around, but I think it's going to take some time for these businesses to actually understand the power of big data.
Big data has forever changed the face of marketing and sales yet most companies lag behind their customers’ expectations for personalized communications. Personalization is great, when it’s correct. When the personalized message is wrong, it can drive churn.

Marketers need the ability micro- and multi-segment their visitors based on an unlimited number of behavioral parameters. The ability to couple the insights gained from analytics to specific micro-segments and specific parameters enables personalized communication that is truly personal. Being able to personalize content of web pages, text messages, email communications as well as offers is what today’s consumer expects.
- Andre Lejeune, CEO, Selligent
You've made some great points, Andre. Organizations definitely have to be careful when using big data to create personalized messages. Sending out the wrong message can make an organization look silly, at the very least.