As I predicted at the beginning of last year, Big Data emerged as one of the headline grabbing topics of the year. It’s a buzzword for sure, but it is also one of the most powerful secret weapons that companies can use to drive the customer experience.

By plumbing the depths of the giant treasure trove of very granular, operational data, marketers can spot customer trends that otherwise might not have been detected.

In fact, in the next year we will see Big Data move into the actionable stage. Instead of compressing and discarding that beautifully detailed data that contains amazing insights, marketers are going to put it to work for them.

2013: When Insights Drive Action

Big Data finally gives rise to actually managing the customer experience. It’s too hard for marketers to manage every customer interaction and experience -- they need automated tools that can be driven from predictive analytics. 

The term personalization is used and defined by marketers in very different ways in degrees of maturity. For example, many marketers believe personalizing an email campaign is the only way to personalize customer interactions.

An Econsultancy survey showed that 88 percent of marketers who used social graph data for personalization said it had a high impact on both ROI and engagement. However, only 6 percent of respondents used social graphs for personalization purposes.

These ways to combine data from various interaction points offer many opportunities for marketers. But we need the data to have enough detail to actually automate the customer experience.

New Tools to Meet New Marketing Demands

There are a whole host of newer technologies that have emerged to deal with these larger volumes of data. Just like it was unimaginable to be able to talk in real-time to someone on the other side of the planet 100 years ago, owning databases with this kind of volume will become commonplace.

I predict that in the coming years, this will become the strategic differentiator for most companies. Marketers will demand tools that extract the value in large sets of customer interaction data and provide the ability to build lifetime customers by knowing customers so well, and by being immediately relevant by being able to predict their needs.

Customers and prospects aren't responding to a single campaign or through one interaction point, so we have to stop thinking of web, email, social, mobile etc. as separate buckets and start thinking holistically. You can imagine the challenges involved in having all this data in siloes with no idea how to sync them together.