The potential of big data is still a hot topic, but very little time is spent actually addressing how this works in practice. The fastest growing answer to the big data dilemma is cloud storage and according to the latest IDC predictions demand for big data and cloud computing solutions will soar by 55 per cent this year.
Are marketers simply trying to outdo each other with the latest technological innovation or is there actually a genuine opportunity here for marketers to produce real results from big data? Is the cloud set to fly?Cloud storage emerged as a method to solving the data surplus with some added incentives for marketers. Looking at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) we can see that hundreds – even thousands – of connected devices are set to enter the marketplace in the next three years. From wearable technologies to our thermostat, these devices will collect microscopic details about our everyday lives. Add to this, the information generated through accessing a brand’s website, phoning its customer service line or sending an email.We are fast approaching data oblivion, where we have more data than we can possibly store – let alone analyse effectively or keep up-to-date.The idea behind cloud storage is that data can be consolidated in one place, as with a large mainframe database system. The difference with cloud storage is that data can be collected from any source and accessed anywhere in the world. As the amount of data available to marketers grows, the use of cloud storage could enable them to gain the all-important single-customer-view from an enormous data set.As we approach a marketplace where data is generated in real-time on a huge scale, the ability to collect and store vast amounts of information will be integral to providing the perfect customer experience. An interesting growth area for cloud storage is the automotive industry.According to IBM statistics, by 2020 ninety per cent of vehicles on the road will be wirelessly connected. The sheer volume of information generated will have to be processed in the cloud through big data analytics; processing the weather, the vehicle’s history and component failures. Analysing this data effectively opens up a whole host of new, tailored customer interactions. Does the driver need to renew their insurance? Should we call them to book an MOT? Suddenly, brands can predict its customers’ needs with absolute precision.To reach data utopia, the cloud still has a number of barriers to overcome. Without the most advanced tools and expertise in place to turn raw data into useful insight, cloud storage hits a wall. Marketers still need to invest in the right skill-set and infrastructure to ensure customer interactions are based on real insight.It’s common for marketers to collect so much data that they miss the important insights that really make a difference to customer communications. At the moment cloud storage faces the same problem as many mainframe databases, and indeed links to my preferred definition of Big Data – all the data you collect but don’t yet use.More concerning still, are the privacy issues that surround cloud storage. The benefits of accessing data anywhere and everywhere means it also can be prone to data-breaches. Before marketers can fully take advantage of the benefits cloud storage offers, they need to alleviate consumer concerns over exactly who has access to their personal information – the NHS systems recent fiasco shows what happens without consumers support.This means understanding where someone is accessing data, their location and from what device. The continual monitoring and multi-faceted layers of security that is required is what makes the robustness of a mainframe database far more viable. Having said that, the younger generations are becoming less concerned about providing personal data to “the internet”.The turning point for cloud storage in the consumer’s eyes may be when it becomes habitual to use it every day. Laptops are becoming smaller and hardware storage is priced at a premium. Cloud storage is set to become a cheaper alternative and once consumers have built a familiarity with the concept, it could solve the trust issue for marketers.Cloud computing has enormous potential to change the way we think about data. It could provide marketers with the freedom to collect boundless amounts of customer data and opens up new customer interactions. It may not fly this year, but in three year’s time when it reaches its full potential cloud storage will no doubt form a key part of every data strategy.
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