Forrester Sees Growth in Use of Big Data Despite Confusion

In a survey of 259 marketing and business development execs in finance, retail and consumer products, Forrester Research found that one-third of the respondents were confused about big data, and only 9 percent plan to implement related technologies in the next year. Forrester also found in a parallel survey that 452 technology execs at the same companies claimed they were more familiar with big data. Despite the confusion, the report encourages companies to take advantage of data supplied by Internet users and connected devices.

“The data explosion has changed how we do business,” says Forrester. “Every interaction, every communication, every touchpoint creates a digital breadcrumb — a piece of data that can be analyzed and manipulated.”

“Forrester cites retailers building apps to help customers navigate stores, Uber disrupting the taxi business with smartphone data, and Netflix testing millions of customer preferences before launching the successful miniseries ‘House of Cards,'” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The report highlights companies in traditional industries that have used data to change business practices or increase revenue. Clorox, for example, attributed a sales increase in early 2013 in part to mining social media for flu-trend data, and using the information to decide where to stock products. Farm-equipment maker John Deere and biotechnology company Monsanto are analyzing data from seeds, satellites, and tractors to help farmers them decide what and when to plant, and how to distribute seeds.”

The introduction of “anticipatory shipping,” which Amazon patented to ship products based on geographical predictions, takes big data to the next step.

And while Forrester says that companies will increasingly use big data to make predictions that influence their operations and affect business practices, they also warn that companies will “face pressure from individuals and regulators over privacy, security and the ways they collect and manage the data,” notes WSJ.