Your Big Data is nothing without Little Data

Posted by Brooke Hemphill on February 17, 2016

Big data, meet little data. The two of you are going to need each other more in 2016 than ever before.

While Big data has been the hot marketing topic for the past few years. In 2016, it's big data's smaller, more powerful sibling – little data – that's potentially going to have the most impact.

We all know what big data is - a gargantuan collection of information with the power to transform business that is yet to meet such high expectations.

But what is little data? Little data is the finer details of that behemoth; the unique information about the customer, the vendor, the location, the interaction.

As brand expert and author Martin Lindstrom puts it: "It’s the tiny clues that uncover huge trends and can lead to the foundation for breakthrough ideas or transformative ways of turning around brands."

Think of it this way, big data needs context to be useful and that context is little data.  

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Companies and brands can invest in big data, reams of information they’re unsure how to wrangle, but ultimately what they need is the little stuff to deliver value.

Marketing professor Jonah Berger defines little data more specifically as “personal quantification. The measurement, tracking, and analysis of the minutiae of our everyday lives”. This is the data utilised by a movement known as the “quantified self”. The folks sporting Fitbits to quantify their daily exercise habits and other similar technologies are driving this movement.

A perfect example of little data is the information collected from Pureprofile’s Account Holders. Each day these individual people answer thousands of questions about their likes, activities and purchase intent. This data - such as whether a person is into pop music or drinks almond milk - mightn’t seem like much but the opportunities within this information are endless.

Say you are a company launching a new almond milk product. While big data with its demographic data points can help you run an online campaign that reaches out to a broad audience research tells you could be interested in your product - say, urban dwelling women in their thirties - imagine how much more successful the launch would be if you could take out the guess work and access people who have told you they drink almond milk.

In the words of software company Tibco:

“When your data strategy includes both Big Data and Little Data, you have the knowledge gained from years of experience used in context with the immediate situation. This is what gives your organisation the two-second advantage in business.”

It might sound small but little data is not to be underestimated.

 

This is an updated post: originally published 5 March 2015.

 

Topics: Thought Leadership, Personal Data Management, Big data

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