Big Data is definitely the hot topic now in just about any consumer business model. But how can it help your business? What’s the big deal about Big Data, anyway? After all, industry fads and tech advantages come and go all the time. Last year’s surefire winner is next year’s obsolete money pit. How can you be sure Big Data will be a big winner for your brand? Here are three key questions you need to answer before building your Big Data plan.
What is your business case for Big Data?
Look, we all love big, shiny, and new. The next best thing is considered “best” for a reason. But if you don’t understand why Big Data is right for your business, you will never get the buy-in you need to do it right. Without the support of a legitimate business reason, your Big Data efforts will end up understaffed, underfunded, and ultimately unsuccessful. However, you need to understand what Big Data is before you can fully answer this question. This question is not about equity. It’s about potential. Can Big Data analysis make your business better?
Will it be worth it?
This is a tougher question to answer. It’s obvious that Big Data can be beneficial, but can your business make it work, economically and structurally? To get a real world answer to this question, you need to determine a primary focus of your Big Data gathering efforts. This step will not fully eliminate other benefits, but it will help you determine if the benefit will be worth the cost. Will your primary Big Data focus make you more profitable and efficient – enough to offset the costs of developing a team and maintaining a structured Big Data analysis protocol?
In house or contract?
Many small and medium sized companies simply cannot bear the expense of an in-house Big Data team. Just as many of these same companies outsource their marketing, PR, and HR efforts, Big Data analysis can also be effectively contracted. Even larger firms may look at this option in the short term. Particularly when the vision is a bit vague and buy-in is shaky. You will pay more for the actual contracted service in the short run, but save by not having to recruit, train, and manage an internal team. Conversely, if your company has a clear vision and the necessary funding, building an in-house team offers the benefits of a more custom approach to and implementation of your unique Big Data vision.
Understanding how these questions should be answered in your unique business situation should tell you everything you need to know about when – and if – your brand needs to implement Big Data in your business.
David A. Steinberg is CEO of Zeta Global, which has been named as one of Forbes’ most promising American companies.