How will technology enable businesses to leverage big data for predictive analytics and data curation?

Guest post by Ashley Verrill, CRM Analyst at Software Advice.

Paul Greenberg, 56 Group owner and CRM thought leader, told me recently that Big Data poses two primary challenges to business – volume and velocity. It's not just about the enormity of customer information available; it's the speed at which it's hurdling at you at any given moment

He said in the last year, however, technologies that tackle these obstacles have advanced enormously fast. These services leverage data to help companies know what to do, how to do it and with whom.

“A year ago, Big Data was perceived as a problem to be solved. Now it’s being solved,” he told me. My company provides reviews of CRM systems, and I contacted Greenberg to help me devise the second edition of CRM's Next 5 in 5.

In 2012, my colleague Lauren Carlson contacted five top CRM thought leaders to come up with five technologies that would impact the industry in the next five years – it was a play off of IBM's Next 5 in 5. I decided to revisit that research this year to see if any of these predictions have changed.

Big Data was a common theme between years, but the way this data is being applied has continued to grow. Last year, the group talked about data from the perspective of providing more context about the customer.

This is still a huge trend among technology developers. The difference is companies are using this context and related data for increasingly granular business goals. Beagle Research Group CEO Denis Pombriant called this “curated data.”

“InsideView and Dun and Bradstreet both deliver relevant data to their customers, data that is not secret or obscured by other data that requires analytics to get right. …I am beginning to see new analytics tools that use very different technologies to tease information out of data,” he said.

One example of this curation for a specific purpose might be prompting sales teams into action based on website behavior. In the past, this might have exclusively relied on one specific site visit - someone visited your site and filled out a form.

With curated data from other sources, new technologies can score a lead with onsite behavior and information from data providers. Is that site visitor from a Fortune 500 company, in your industry niche, and the third one from that firm to visit your site that hour? This way, sales can better prioritize their efforts rather than just following up on every prospect that fills out a form. 

This curated data is also being used to predict behaviors and personalize marketing. Let's take the hypothetical I just mentioned. Let's say that Fortune 500 visitor is the fifth from that company to visit your site today and your data service has already identified them as being in your marketing sweet spot.

At the same time your sales team is alerted to reach out, the visitor is being served content and messaging specifically proven in the past to drive such leads to conversion. The tool automatically predicts what white paper, chat, offer or other touch point that specific kind of lead is most likely to respond to.

This kind of predictive analytics is used all the time in the B2C world. Think about Hulu's “What should you watch next?” suggestions. Soon, these technologies will automate these predictions to a much more personal level.

Let's say, for example, that you visit an e-retailer website and add five items to your cart. Five minutes later you get a call and navigate away from the page without buying. You might immediately get an email saying “Buy the items you left in your cart just now and be entered to win an iPad, and get a 10 percent discount.”

This message wouldn't be delivered to everyone that abandons their cart. It was sent you because you've engaged with every contest in the past, only buy discounted items, and are a big spender. It makes ROI sense to send that offer to you because the technology predicted that's a lever they can pull to drive you into action.

These were just a couple examples of how data is now being curated to predict customer behavior and solve specific business challenges. The diversity and the specificity of these applications will continue to evolve as more data becomes available and is harnessed through social and mobile.

Read the rest of our expert group's predictions here:  “Mobile, Social, Data and CRM: Top Analysts Predict the Future.”