Does my data look big in this?

“Big Data” is the new buzz phrase in just about every business sector and financial services is no different.

But will big data prove to be a genuinely transformative business tool or is it running the risk of being over-hyped and a waste of money?

Well the concept of big data focuses on the idea that you can use the billions of pieces of information available within your organisation – but more importantly information outside of your organisation as well, to help gain all manner of insights into what your customers want and what they will want in future. Think of big data as future-proofing Tweet this

The strength of big data comes from its ‘bigness’ (without wanting to state the obvious!). As this article by Greg Satell, writing on the website of business magazine Forbes, points out, it is the sheer scale of the data, which allows you to correct for inaccuracies and outliers that occur over time, inaccuracies that often spoil smaller data sets.

You can also see all manner of useful patterns, though to date that has been best applied to monitoring global flu pandemics, rather than any particular business use.

So despite all its promise, there is also understandable caution. That may explain why even global consultancy Deloitte is warning in recent report for UK financial firms that you have to know what you are trying to achieve and that a ‘lean’ approach to all your data needs may be best.

Deloitte doesn’t underestimate the importance of traditional forms of data either. It divides data into:

Targeted data – where you use your own customer research from internal sources (think of it as ‘known knowns’)

Enterprise data – which sometimes can be locked up in different silos within your business (but if unlocked can be very valuable – these are your ‘known unknowns’)

…and then Big data, which may be easier to see because it exists in highly searchable forms on the web (but can also be rather nebulous as well – definitely an ‘unknown unknown’)

At Space01, we can see the allure of big data, but we suspect that it may be the Targeted and Enterprise data that will prove most valuable to you and are certainly the most cost-effective to access for now.

The big financial players, ones that offer insurance, pensions and banking, will be sitting on a data goldmine. Overlaying their different data sets might hold out the promise of allowing them to see their customers in three dimensions for the first time (data protection rules and budgets allowing of course!). But don’t forget that if mined efficiently, these insights are also available from your Enterprise data.

Using a combination of Enterprise and Targeted data (which can involve polling and qualitative telephone or face to face research) may help your answer specific questions.

You can add social media to track attitudes of existing and potential customers to take advantage of the new world! Tweet this There is so much data out there to interrogate and so many exciting tools you can use to help you, that it could be easy to get carried away.

Our instinct is that big data may be best for answering really big questions such as changing attitudes to savings, investments and debt. But if you want to answer questions about how attitudes to insurance have changed following the gender directive or how investors are paying – or not paying for advice in the first few months of the RDR, it may well be worth looking at your own business data first. Where there are gaps in your big data, there is no substitute to going out and asking customers and business partners what they really think. Tweet this

A more targeted, bespoke approach still fits the needs of most firms and that is probably where your competitive advantage lies.

Talk to us about your data

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