Business / View

Mountains of data can be turned into business success

By Nitin Nishandar (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-29 10:35

Small Businesses have never had so much data at their disposal. But many are failing to use the information to help them make informed decisions.

The latest survey by Brand & Communications, global leaders in mobile data, polled more than 2,700 marketing professionals across the Asia Pacific region. It showed that the volume and variety of data is making it harder for businesses to use it to their advantage.

Chinese companies are investing more in data-driven digital platforms and tracking systems to help them understand the challenging online landscape.

Much of this data comes into the marketing department, with one in three professionals now managing real-time statistics as part of their job.

But 65 percent of those involved in the industry in China admit they find it difficult to deal with data from different sources. With so much statistics available, many are struggling to integrate traditional and digital measurements.

China is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to online platforms. This has resulted in a generation of unprecedented volumes of consumer behavior statistics.

The good news is that marketing professionals have a wealth of information at their disposal. Yet, it is not always easy to know how to approach the data in order to reveal hidden insights that represent business value.

Because of the difficulties with real-time statistics, many marketing professionals are reverting to traditional methods. Sales figures are still used as the No 1 way of evaluating the success of marketing campaigns.

Despite their importance, these metrics are retrospective and do not empower businesses to track the ongoing results of campaigns and react to live issues. In addition, research methods are not helping marketing professionals make quick and informed decisions.

Analysis is viewed as "too slow" to be of use, according to the Brand survey in China.

The difficulties in extracting valuable insight from data mean that marketing professionals have a rearview mirror approach. They only understand the performance of their brands weeks or even months afterward.

Real-time data needs to deliver real-time value - otherwise it's just distracting noise.

Obviously, there are countries further ahead when dealing with digital data. Despite having some of the most advanced social media platforms in the world, China is in fact lagging behind, with only one in three using social media monitoring when making marketing decisions.

Tapping into digital data has the potential to unlock future opportunities for businesses. Brand found that two out of three marketing professionals across Asia are frustrated with the lack of insight provided by traditional research.

New methods are showing that digital data, when integrated correctly, can not only help make real-time decisions, but also predict brand strength.

As long as people have been talking about big data, there has been the promise of using social media and search content to provide an instant snapshot of what consumers are saying, thinking and feeling.

Big data is a broad term for processing vast amounts of complex statistics, which can be boiled down into market and consumer trends. The potential, of course, is obvious.

Marketing professionals would be able get their hands on unfiltered opinions and respond accordingly. They would get a full picture of what is happening to the brand right now.

As the pace of change accelerates across the region, we need to start using data to gaze into the future, not just measure the here and now.

The author is managing director of Brand & Communications at TNS Asia Pacific

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