Big data, is it still relevant? Back in 2015, Gartner coined the term Big Data, a term for data sets so large, disparate or complex that traditional data processing approaches were not adequate. This applied across many areas of data processing including capture, storage, maintenance, access, reporting & compliance.
Here we are in 2019 and we thought it was worth a recap
on where we’ve come from, where we’re going how Big Data applies to IBM’s
Watson Marketing customers.
Big Data is still a hugely relevant topic for modern
marketing, though the term has become a little distorted to mean many things to
marketers trying to stay ahead of the curve, in much the same way as ‘real-time’
The last 4 years have seen a continued proliferation of channels where our customers can interact with brands, with a corollary of reducing reliance on brands interacting with customers (in the traditional outbound sense). The phrase ‘too much information’ (TMI) has never been more relevant and the need to manage high-volume, high-velocity informational assets and incorporate them into your decision making, ever more important.
Analytics powerhouses such as Gartner and Nielsen have
also documented a shift from investment in technology to investment in solving
specific problems, which indicates a period of consolidation may be upon us.
Other strong growth areas of Big Data involve the capture, contextual
interpretation and analysis of visual data such as images, animated gifs and
even videos. While this is in its infancy, it’s clearly a fascinating time to
be a marketer – or a social technologist.
In terms of how Big Data currently integrates or
influences the Watson Marketing portfolio, it can take a number of forms;
At the time of writing, the latest version of IBM
Campaign is version 11, however there will be new releases during 2019.
Alongside the traditionally supported heavy hitters of large-scale
transactional databases Teradata and IBM Netezza, several ‘big data’-bases are
now supported, with more on the way:
- Amazon Redshift
- IBM dashDB
- Apache Hhive (based on Hadoop Big Data)
- HP Vertica (based on Postgres)
These can all be added as base/dimension/general
datasources in IBM Campaign and used to complement outbound decisioning. The
data contained in these can also be fed through to an IBM Interact supported
database (Oracle/SQL Server/DB2) for inclusion in real-time inbound
Watson Campaign Automation (formerly IBM Marketing Cloud)
Although not a database in its own right, the ability to
add web tagging throughout your brand real estate to capture data into WCA’s universal
behaviours datastore allows extensive online interactions to play their part in
This facilitates a long-awaited move away from batch
communications to triggered programmatic messaging, interacting with customers
when they want to be interacted with, rather than the other way around.
IBM Universal Behavior Exchange
A relative newcomer to the Watson Marketing portfolio, Universal
Behavior Exchange (UBX) has already made huge inroads into the core platform of
many blue chip and enterprise level organisations.
UBX allows disparate (and distant) endpoints to be
connected up, in order to ensure that data (no matter it’s origin) is where it
needs to be to facilitate your business requirements, whether for marketing or
With more endpoints being added all the time, UBX allows
marketers working with IBM technologies (Campaign or WCA) to bring together and
leverage data from ever further flung areas such as social, online advertising and
even emoji analytics!
In 2019 we are seeing the rise of Cognitive Computing as
a crucial next phase of evolution in data driven marketing. With the continued
explosion of data sets available (or that should be available) to the modern
marketer attempting to promote brands, products and services, cognitive
computing is one mechanism that has the potential for making sense of the
At the core of IBMs Cognitive Computing offering is
Watson, its natural language, machine learning artificial intelligence
capability. We’ve all heard the stories of how Watson has beaten chess
grandmasters, won on Jeopardy and even played its part in cancer treatments in
a truly astonishing project – Watson has now found its home in the Cognitive
IBM Watson brings to the marketer the capability to
consume and make sense of the terabytes of data being generated (including
unstructured text, images, audio and video), to provide personalised
recommendations on next-best-action across inbound, outbound, social, live-chat
and much, much more. The marketer stays in charge, but they are assisted with
analysis, guidance and recommendations (including the reasoning behind them)
rather than a googolplex of data and a headache…
In conclusion, Big Data is here to stay and, on the horizon, are more and more innovative ways to make sense of it, to bring order from chaos. If you need help to cut through the noise, get in touch!