In rapid fire, D&B’s Chief Product Officer Laura Kelly laid out a vision for a whole new world of data yesterday at DataWeek and API World in San Francisco. Her keynote presentation, Making Great Marketing Decisions with Predictive Tools and Data, started with a reality check about Big Data projects – who’s doing them and why – and why no one can afford to sit on their hands for long.
Chiefly, the issue is one of timing. Struggle now with the complexities of unstructured data, or delay and face even bigger hurdles in terms of data volume, velocity and variety – and lag even further behind the competition. It’s also about getting the right information in the hands of sales and marketing people quickly, so they can do their jobs more effectively, and protect or even boost the business’ bottom line.
For D&B, it’s where its growing list of partners comes into play.
“We have structured data completely down,” Kelly told the crowd of developers, consultants and business leaders. It’s the massive amount of unstructured data that presents the most challenges — and the greatest opportunities. “Through our partnership with FirstRain, we can make a marriage between those two sources of information,” Kelly said.
To give customers greater choice in data sets, D&B also formed the D&B Data Exchange, a data marketplace that offers data from partner companies that’s been cleansed and matched to DUNS Numbers, bringing structure to wide variety new and niche data sources.
“It’s always good to have more data,” Kelly said. “But being able to structure it is really important.”
The Future Belongs to Smart Marketers
Kelly’s talk touched on a wide array of topics, from the continuing trend of globalization to the need to bring transparency to supply chains, so manufacturers can know who is fulfilling their contracts, even down to second- and third-tier suppliers. But what really rang true was this: Social media has changed everything.
“Social media connects instancy of information with your location and your interests,” Kelly said. “If you think about those things, it’s a marketers’ heaven.”
Successful marketers figure out what matters to people. If a campaign doesn’t resonate, swap it out for a new one, the same day it launched. Digital marketers can produce new messages every hour, until they find the right way to reach their target audience.
Today, social media acts as a real-time feedback loop between a business and its customers, and Kelly highlighted the successes that TripAdvisor, Zappos and Amazon have had by going beyond social monitoring and actively gathering and analyzing data in ways that help them anticipate trends and respond to customer concerns in real time.
The goal is to address the needs of sales and marketing professionals, so they can gain access to news, social media and business insights in real-time — not two months down the road, after a deal has been lost or a first-mover opportunity has vanished.
Kelly talked about two ways to improve market segmentation: increasing the use of analytics, and getting top-quality data visualization tools that non-technical folks can use to find the “golden nuggets” of information amid all the noise.
“Big Data is bulky data,” Kelly said. “It’s really, really hard to make sense out of. Figure out how to make it small. Make it a bite-sized solution for your problem.”
And finally, it all comes down to serving customers better by building a partner ecosystem that spans markets, use cases, business models and geographies. “We need to be where our customers need us,” Kelly said. “We’re working with Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and other partners, where we embed our data into the everyday workflows of people who need that information.”