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Analytics and Big Data: Discover the Unknown Unknowns

This is the 1st post in the 10-post series, “A Marketer’s Journey Through the Big Data Archipelago.”

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld

The Data Security Isle in the Big Data Archipelago

Welcome to the Analytics Isle—the #1 hot spot destination for marketers in the Big Data Archipelago! It’s not hard to understand why this island is so popular given its unlimited data opportunities for exploration, reporting, advanced analytics and data visualization. With all the data that’s available these days—from traditional (CRM, call center, sales) to big (web logs, email, social)—some marketers are having a heyday carving out new paths and adventures to pursue, while others are simply stuck in the moat.

For years, marketers have used analytics with their traditional data to gain valuable insight into their company and customers. With analytics, they are able to come to the data with their business questions in hand to answer the known unknowns. In other words, they know what they don’t know or want to know, and they use analytical data to fill in the blanks. It’s like discovering gold in a hidden treasure chest of data. This approach has certainly worked well for many companies and will continue to do so in the years to come.

But let’s shift our focus from what is happening with traditional data and explore what could be happening with big data.

A Big Data Best Practice for Analytics

Big data blows the analytical door wide open to new possibilities. Not only can we gain insight by answering the known unknowns, we can now make an impact by discovering the unknown unknowns. What does this mean?

Simply stated, with big data technologies, we can now leverage larger volumes and new types of data to discover the questions we hadn’t even considered or even knew to ask before. It’s not just about finding the answers anymore; it’s about discovering those questions that could impact our business for good. We find that the gold, or rather, the insight, in our treasure chests of data includes both the questions and the answers we need to address in order to make that desired impact in our organizations and communities.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

  • Don’t get stuck in the moat. It’s filled with crocodiles.
  • Spend extra time in the Exploration territory. Discover those questions.
  • Be a part of the big data what could be discussion with colleagues.
  • Don’t feed the Big Data Narwhal on the North Shore of the island.
  • Analyze traditional and big data together for greater insight and impact.
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