What Does it Take to Turn Big Data into Big Dollars?

“Data is the new oil.” I’m hearing that declaration more and more, and to me, it means simply this: Companies are learning to turn Big Data into Big Dollars.

How are they doing it? With the help of data scientists, a new generation of business leaders who understand that today, data drives revenue. No, data scientists aren’t unapproachable IT pros who have donned white lab coats so they can go off to work in some ivory tower. They’re just the opposite. Data scientists are collaborators. They’re the leaders who help marketers combine the art of creativity with the science of numbers to help drive insight and business results.

But, there’s one big problem surrounding data scientists.

The marketing industry just doesn’t seem to have enough of them.

As Mashable reported earlier this year, the largest-ever global survey of the data science community yielded some telling results:

*Most data science professionals (65 percent) believe demand for data science talent will outpace the supply over the next five years.

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*Only 1/3 of respondents said they are very confident in their company’s ability to make business decisions based on new data.

*A mere 12 percent of business intelligence professionals and 22 percent of data scientists strongly believe employees have the access to run experiments on data – undermining a company’s ability to innovate by rapidly testing and validating ideas.

*Less than four in ten of business intelligence analysts and data scientists (38 percent) strongly agree that their company uses data to learn more about customers.

Interestingly, we uncovered similar outcomes in polling we conducted at the Aprimo Marketing Summit 2012 last month. During one session, we asked attendees, “Does your company see a need for data scientist to help manage Big Data?” Here are the responses:

  • We see a need, but don’t have any today 40.7 percent
  • Yes, we have data scientists today 25.6 percent
  • Not sure if we have this need 18.6 percent
  • We aren’t ready for this yet 15.1 percent

In addition, we asked, “How is your team leveraging Big Data?” and found that only 11.6 percent of respondents reported they are using Big Data to drive market strategies. The remainder said they weren’t confident in their results, were unsure where to start, or still had fundamental questions. I was somewhat surprised to see that 14.9 percent of the marketers we polled are still wondering “What is Big Data?”

Our world is increasingly data-driven. As McKinsey explains, each second of high-definition video generates more than 2,000 times as many bytes as required to store a single page of text. And, of course, video is just one part of the equation. Intelligent chips, tags, SMS, Tweets –they all leave digital information trails that tell us information about how consumers interact, what they consider important, etc.

The era of Big Data is here. You’re going to need the right tools –and you’re going to need the right people –to put Big Data to work for you. All that “new oil” won’t have value unless it can be used to gather the actionable insights that drive business growth.

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Comments: 1

  • Nice article Lisa! With regards to staffing up for big data, exactly what HPCC Systems is trying to accomplish. Provide a single platform that is easy to install, manage and code to. Their built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and integrations tools with Pentaho make it easy for users who do not hold a PHD degree or carry a title like “Data Scientist” to be able to easily analyze Big Data. For more info visit

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