There's a tsunami of data coming from so-called "unstructured" sources, including social networks, mobile applications and the Web. But rather than be overwhelmed, retailers and other businesses can discover opportunities in the places where this tidal wave of unstructured, consumer-generated data collides with more traditional data sources.
That's the idea behind the "socialization of data," according to Darryl McDonald, executive vice president, business development and marketing at Teradata. "Most companies still use only traditional forms of data," said McDonald. "The socialization of data is about capturing this enormous wave of data and marrying it to what you already know about your customers." McDonald delivered one of the keynote speeches at the Teradata Partners user group conference, being held in San Diego October 24-28.
McDonald quantified the explosive growth of new data sources, which this year will total 1.2 zettabytes (a one followed by 21 zeros, or the equivalent of 75 billion iPads full of data):
• Nearly two billion people worldwide use the Internet
• Facebook has more than 500 million subscribers; if it were a country, only China and India would have bigger "populations."
• There are 85 million Twitter "tweets" per day
• For the first time, mobile data has surpassed voice traffic globally.
"If your company doesn't use social media data, you might as well close down the call center and turn off the phones," said McDonald. "Consumers expect immediate gratification. It's a three-year-old's world: they want what they want now."
Some companies are taking advantage of the data surge. Nike wanted to increase its traction with its younger customer base, so they made it possible for consumers to design their own footwear. "Nike gets a better sense of what people want; they can capture trends by age group and demographic, and they can use the data for future product designs," said McDonald. "They also capture these people as customers, and if they buy the footwear they've designed, it creates a tremendous viral marketing opportunity when the customer wears them."
Another benefit of the socialization of data is that it "makes IT a valued partner in your organization, and allows companies to not just meet demand but beat demand," said McDonald.
The Partners conference has attracted nearly 3,000 attendees from 45 countries, and nearly 170 Teradata customers will be among the speakers at the event.