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When Consuming Big Data, Invite Technology to the Table and Take Small Bites

Among my mother’s numerous dinnertime rules and regulations was this classic: “Cut that in half or you’ll choke on it.” Consuming digital data—as big as it is these days—can have the same your-eyes-are-bigger-than-your-stomach effect. Tempting as it might be to take it all in at once, you and everybody else gathered around for your presentation will soon get an upset tummy, if they stay awake long enough. Better to cut it up into consumable bites.

But first things first. Before you can present data, you need to capture it. And that’s no picnic even if you’re prepared for it, because the volume of collectible digital data has skyrocketed in recent years. Then comes analysis. Finding ways to decipher the data and then present actionable items and (hopefully) positive ROI can be equally as challenging. Indeed, managing this explosion of big data is a top concern for a majority of marketing executives.

Four Tips for Managing Big Data

1. Get help. Big data is, well, too big and too important to go it alone. Surround yourself with people who have a talent not only for technology but also for finance (it doesn’t have to be the same person, of course). Look around the corporation for some allies in this effort, and solicit external talent if you need to. Compel your peers in IT and finance to partner up. Along the way, you’ll find that your own personal data management expertise will advance by leaps and bounds.

2. Gear up. Get back to your friends in IT to lock down the technical platform you need to capture, store, analyze, and present the data. Lots of it. Make sure that the data technology infrastructure connects to all customer touch points.

3. Take small bites. When presenting data, exercise a modicum of portion control. A 60-page presentation that overwhelms your CEO or audience will be less effective than a four-page report that is concise, informative, and visually appealing. Use a dashboard; CEOs love charts, graphs, and infographics that facilitate quick understanding. Make sure that whatever metrics you illustrate throughout the presentation are aligned with strategies you suggest in the session or deploy in the future. Zero in on a data narrative that is relevant to your audience. Without proper or meaningful context, your data could be misleading, misunderstood, ignored, or forgotten altogether.

4. Summarize. Highlight the data you can act on right away, and announce your recommendations. Compelling metrics not only help your own decision making; they also make it easier for your CEO or audience to support those decisions or see the ROI. Or both!

But wait! You still have more data, heaping portions of it. Fine. But save it for another meeting. Avoid the temptation to execute a full-on data dump on your audience. Listen to your mother.

Want to know more about capturing, managing, and presenting analytics you can act on? See how CSUITE™ from GLG helps you assemble the right tools for measuring results and serve up the data for the best results.