Why companies and brands should make a Small Data resolution for 2017

Data has the power to transform all kinds of organisations – public and private sector, B2B and B2C, global and local.

Every customer action, engagement and transaction generates potentially instructive and directional data. Retailers, for example, can see where and why their consumers lose interest and so can make things simpler or clearer to create a better customer experience.

Mobile network operators … gaming companies … media and platform owners … motor manufacturers … There are very few businesses that can’t make themselves more relevant, very few brands that can’t make themselves more attractive if they read the runes of the data that they generate and capture.

The trouble is the very bigness of Big Data. Many business and marketing leaders have been brought up and trained in a pre-Big Data era, and many are struggling to keep up. Mistakenly, they believe they need to boil the ocean to make sense of the world. They find the sheer scale of the jobs they need to do intimidating. And all too often, they give up or look at too many signals in the search for that elusive and meaningful noise.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. For the past nine months, I’ve been a regular contributor to a new podcast called the Small Data Forum. Convened by digital publisher and content analytical experts, LexisNexis, every couple of months I’ve got together with Lexis’ head of media intelligence, Thomas Stoeckle, and IBM Watson’s Neville Hobson.

Our conversations about why and how businesses need to focus on the relatively contained, Small Data sets that are relevant and necessary to transform their organisations, have come in a turbulent year. With Brexit and Trump riding a cart and horses through the polling and predictive analytics business, we’ve had plenty to talk about.

As a Christmas gift to our growing and committed audience, last week we published our Christmas special, titled “Fake news, search gaming and augmented intelligence”. If you’re part of club already, thanks for lending us your ears every six to eight weeks. But if you’ve yet to discover the #SmallDataForum, why not use less than an hour of the festive fortnight to give our musings a whirl. You can stream the latest episode from Insight Agents’ homepage, here. You can also download the back catalogue from iTunes, over there. And if you really like what you hear, you might even want to become part of our LinkedIn group.

As seasoned vets of the media, measurement and analytics world with far too many collective miles on the clock to admit to, I know I speak for Thomas and Neville when I say we really enjoy the engagement we generate through this podcast – in the days around when we publish, but also for weeks and months afterwards. Though topical or topically-inspired, there’s something incredibly satisfying about the half-life of a podcast. Something that Neville – a pioneer of business podcasting, on media and social – knew for a decade before we happened on the scene.

We hope you enjoy our latest, seasonal offering, and look forward to engaging deeper and with more of you in the New Year. After the annus mirabilis / horriblis that was 2016, and as Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas would say, “Happy blooming Christmas!”