Customer data has always played an important role in business strategy; it allows us to make informed decisions based on concrete information, without it we’re taking a stab in the dark.

Data fills in the gaps and builds the foundations, it tells us the
scale of the situation and where the opportunities are. Consumers are increasingly engaging with brands across multiple platforms creating a web of metadata, perfect for understanding their behaviour. This huge collection of interactions and snippets of information can be described as Big Data, which can be used to build a surprisingly descriptive portrait of an individual. And its real world application is probably more diverse than you think.

With a far more developed understanding we can now predict consumer behavior more accurately. This goes further than suggestions from your favourite brands; it fundamentally impacts the direction of strategy. You only have to look at programmatic advertising to see its impact on media buying or Oakland Athletics success as proof of data’s potential in unexpected areas. Roles that once needed years of training and on-the-job experience can be substituted for statistical expertise. But with data implementation coming to the forefront it begs the question…

Is data killing creativity?

Is a TV show created by statistical correlation a triumph of creativity or pandering to the averages? Could there be a Golden Globe for the best use of data or a Clio for the highest click-through rate? I don’t think these are unrealistic statements, this video mocking the repetitive nature of popular music perfectly shows how their is formula to writing a hit, all you need to do is break something down to its parts and make them fit the popular trends, isn’t that is the process of data analysis?

But data is a record of the past. And if we’re using history to create history, won’t this stifle innovation? There is reason to be wary of data overload, even commercial research heavyweight Dun & Bradstreet warn against the reliance on data, “Marketers must apply their skills, intuition, experience, and judgment to determine the why”.

I’m sure you’ve seen how strong market research can be the catalyst, but it can’t dream up new ideas. Use your consumer information to inspire your plans, not control them, because…

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