Big Data Blah Blah Blah (Part 2)

Since we last spoke, I have noted additional signs of “hyper-BS” surrounding the term Big Data. One of the most interesting ones I saw was while I was on my way to the office and noticed a car with a slogan reading “Big Data? No Problem” plastered all over it. It apparently belongs to a local legal services company. I think I’ve made my point about how tremendously over-hyped I think the term is and that most online marketers have a more acute data fragmentation problem. Let’s discuss that in more detail now.

Recently, our friends at chiefmartec.com have identified 947 different companies that provide software for marketers. I have studied Scott Brinker’s very impressive landscape graphic myself and could add a few dozen more vendors without breaking too much of a sweat. The thing to remember about this landscape is that the data flow between these vendors and to their clients is, what’s the word I’m looking for, oh yeah … insane!

So how can you hope to improve your marketing interactions when all of this rich marketing data is flying in all directions? Since Tealium’s inception, we’ve always looked at the tag management challenge as more of a data challenge than anything else. This led us to take a leadership role in the development of a universal data layer, something that is now in vogue at the W3C, which has published its first report on the subject.

One of the straightforward benefits of the data layer is its ability to unify the data being sent to the hundreds of digital marketing vendors who use JavaScript tags as their data collection methodology. What’s that you say? Yes, you heard me right, just properly implement a data layer and you’re well on your way to solving a key portion of the data fragmentation challenge. This of course presumes that your tag management system supports such a robust data layer and can record all the events along the way. There’s something else that happens when you set up a data layer – you can start getting your applications to work together in harmony. When the data, applications, and ultimately the teams are all working together in this way, we call that unified marketing.

I’d like to ask you a question. It’s not a trick question, although admittedly a little loaded. Why are you spending so much time, money, energy, resource, blood, sweat, and tears trying to tie all your data together in the first place? Why do you have one of these “Big Data” initiatives going on in the first place? My bet is that you are doing this because you believe that by understanding the customer dynamics in multiple channels you can improve interactions with the same customers in all channels. So if that’s what you want, let’s start with the foundation of unified data and work towards true unified marketing interactions.

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