Data Overload: When It All Becomes Too Much

Collected Data is Less Than Half the Story

Data OverloadThere are a multitude of recent success stories surrounding big data. Google has not only used big data for itself, but has also developed tools to help other businesses utilize the continually growing amount of data. For example, Netflix recently used big data to launch House of Cards which, according to a New York Times article, the streaming service knew “would be a hit before anyone shouted ‘action.’”

When hearing about real-life success stories like Netflix’s, it can be easy to get starry-eyed when thinking of using big data at your company. Data can help enterprises lay out the red carpet for their consumers and is a fantastic tool available to businesses in any industry. But how much is too much?

With the birth of the digital age and the rapid advancement of technology in the last two decades, businesses have many options for data collection. From online channels to telemarketing, companies can combine a multitude of different choices.

The Availability of Data

Analytics packages like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics are digital marketing tools that can track visitor traffic to a website. They allow companies to analyze their audiences and tailor their businesses to specific needs based on customer data and tracked behaviors.

Direct marketing channels have been around for years and include any type of marketing that connects the businesses directly to consumers. Those telemarketing calls you receive and emails you get in your inbox are a result of a direct marketing campaign. Businesses can also use general market reports, granular use data, catalog profile data, call tracking, and channel articles to gather information about consumers.

If an enterprise wants face-to-face interaction with its consumers, it can attend or host conferences or networking events. Both can help businesses market to their customers and get a more thorough understanding of who these individuals are.

So What Does It All Mean?

Big data can be exciting to explore. With the multitude and accuracy of data collection methods, businesses have the ability to know exactly what their customers want.

However, it can also be overwhelming. While the data collection part has become more and more streamlined and simple, data analysis has become more complicated. Figuring out how to organize all of this info into meaningful relationships is a daunting task. What does it all mean?

Imagine you go to a fancy restaurant – one you’ve been to many times before – but the menu has changed. It’s now pages and pages long. There are so many options that you feel completely overwhelmed and end up getting the same thing you get every time. You know it’s good, but there may have been something else on the menu you’d have liked just as well.

A similar feeling can be had if businesses become so overwhelmed with information that they aren’t sure what to do with it. Worse yet, the data may be in several different systems and formats making it hard to even look at it all together.  Thus, to avoid sifting through all the information to find something meaningful, they avoid it all together and revert back to old marketing campaigns that worked in the past.

Whether due to time or effort constraints, businesses may not be able to pour over mounds of new customer data. There may be new statistics that would benefit the company hidden in the info, but it just doesn’t have the resources to unearth it.

As much as humans love information, too much can cloud our judgment. That’s why businesses should be picky when it comes to data collection methods.

Deciding What’s Right for You

Companies should evaluate their resources to decide which data outlets will work for them. Factors to consider include:

  • Big data can be expensive. What cost constraints does your business have? Which data collection methods can you afford to invest in? A company should develop a budget dedicated to data collection channels and consider these questions before investing in specific methods. Don’t forget about processing the data too, after all, collection is only a small piece of the puzzle.
  • A business has to take the time to decide which data channels will work for its particular industry or field. If it chooses the wrong ones, time will have to be invested into other outlets. If the correct channels are chosen, a business will have to take the time to analyze the information produced by these mediums. It’ll also take time to train employees and help them develop the skills needed to decipher this data.
  • Arguably the most important resource, people play a large role when it comes to big data. After all, the company makes the final decisions based on what a data set may say. Employees must be comfortable working with specific channels, or they have to be trained to develop the skills to work with it. If too much information is coming in from too many sources, employees may become overwhelmed. This may lead to using the statistics incorrectly, causing a business to miss key beneficial points.

In the end, companies should jump on the opportunity to use data to their advantage. The availability and ease of access to big data is exciting for all companies, but don’t let those stars in your eyes deceive you; make the right choice for your company and plan ahead for how it is processed and used.  Information is great, but you have to distill it down correctly to make it useful and informative.