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It’s tough to know for certain if Matt Quint was quoting Jonathan Becher or Albert Einstein when he said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” The director of global brand leadership from Columbia Business School followed his point by discussing the need for marketers to focus on humanizing their analytical processes when addressing big data’s cold, hard facts.

“It’s not about data and human understanding in separate places, but about how they’re intermingling,” Quint said. “Sometimes data is only valuable with a human interpretation on top of it -- what the data reveals and what insights come from the human analysis of it.”

Big Data, Big Payoff

Quint was the keynote speaker at the Data Driven Marketing Conference last week in Toronto. Themed alongside Marketing Magazine's “Big Data, Big Payoff” issue, the event featured industry experts including other influential consultants, tech giants and analytics organizations from around the world. It was a great opportunity for Canadian marketers to explore big data, bright minds and best practices.

SAP’s Madhur Aggarwal, VP Strategy and M&A, Office of the CMO, was both extensively quoted in the Magazine's special issue and he also spoke to the audience of approximately 200 marketers in attendance. Aggawal communicated how SAP is helping organizations strike the right balance between technology and human expertise to drive innovative applications for big data and to help businesses grow faster.

“The role of the ‘science of marketing’ is to influence the ‘art of marketing,’” Aggarwal said, which got a lot of heads nodding.

Aggarwal, and the other keynote speakers, helped to dispel some myths about big data for the audience (a combination of corporate and agency marketers). Many in attendance seems to be looking for:

i)  confirmation that big data is not a threat to the marketing department; and,

ii) knowledge of how to bring their brand(s) to life with big data

Big Data is the next Battleground

The group heard emphatically and repeatedly that real-time analytics will be the marketing battleground of the future. Twitter listed many of the top soundbytes throughout the day.

“If you don’t embrace analytics and big data in five years your company will be redundant.” and "in 10 years, the CEOs of most marketing firms will most likely have a statistics degree/designation."

Some speakers shared interesting DDM case studies.

The first example was focused on the analysis of unstructured data via millions of web posts for a project in the auto industry. The goal of the analysis was to identify the most common terms used by the public to describe three specific compact sedans: the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic. The project yielded some clear results that delivered different keywords for each of the vehicles. The Corolla, for example, was heavily associated with the word “college,” while the Sentra was associated with the words “mom” and “daughter.”

This new layer of analysis took these cars beyond their "compact sedan" category and added a new perspective of the brand for marketers to act on.

Cadillac was profiled in the second example. The brand used big data to uncover “brand-switching” information as part of its efforts to understand/predict customer loyalty. Cadillac and other automakers have been analyzing brand-switching for decades, but big data allows them to leverage large amounts of unstructured data to quickly and more accurately determine loyalty.

In the exercise, Cadillac paired consecutively purchased car brands to determine whether consumers grouped the Cadillac brand with low-end American cars or with luxury imports. Once the brand team understood its position, it followed the data, tweaked its marketing campaigns and influenced how people perceive Cadillac, ensuring its position as a luxury brand -- and disassociating itself from the low-end American cars.

From DDM to Digital Day 3D

The Data Driven Marketing Conference definitely showed Canadian marketers that using insights from analytics can deliver great payoffs. It also serves as a great big data intro for Marketing Digital Day 3D 2013 in Toronto on Oct. 22. Organized by the CMA and Marketing Magazine, Digital Day 3D is designed to guide marketers through the digital disruption by helping them better understand the latest and greatest tools at their disposal.

SAP Canada is already a key sponsor of the event and will lead the entire big data discussion. Follow the conversation with us from wherever you are based. Last week’s event hashtag is #bigdata13; then follow #digiday13 on Oct. 22; and, as always, contribute to SAP’s marketing conversation at #SAP4CMO.

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