The vast amount of data produced on a daily basis has led to new challenges for professionals across industries. While IT departments have been largely responsible for managing that information, perhaps no profession has had more data thrown its way than marketers.
"With real-time data collection, marketers are facing an acceleration of all the challenges that they had in the past," Stephanie Miller, the vice president of communications and member engagement at Directed Marketing Association, recently told BtoB Magazine.
Fortunately for marketers, there does appear to be a solution on the horizon – in the form of business intelligence (BI) software.
BI investment is expected to expand by 9 percent in the next three years alone, according to a recent Technology Business Research study. Improving business operations has remained one of the top reasons for this increase, but gleaning insights into customers is the other big driving force behind adoption of data analysis tools. Technology Business Research analyst Elizabeth Henlin labeled "understanding customer needs" as a critical component of future BI deployment.
But the importance of recent innovations goes beyond just gaining unprecedented knowledge regarding consumers; certain tools provide marketers with the ability to view this analysis in real time.
The advantages of real-time data analytics
Traditional software could be extremely valuable when used effectively, but there are many challenges to this, according to Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at Altimeter Group. Inadequate resources, a lack of immediacy or difficulty understanding the context – these and other factors have stood in the way of real self-service BI.
"Marketers aren't able to act on data immediately," Etlinger told BtoB Magazine. "They have to go through an approval process that requires multiple layers to sign off on changes."
However, all of that is changin as BI vendors are developing more advanced analytics tools. In doing so, they're opening up a whole new world of capabilities for marketers.
One way real-time solutions are useful is their ability to measure consumer behavior. These tools can look at factors ranging from location to gender to interests, enabling companies to develop comprehensive profiles of its customers and create more targeted campaigns.
In addition, real-time analytics allow organizations to measure the success of their advertisements immediately. This will help to both narrow down who is the likely to act upon these ads, and to cut the cord on a campaign quickly if it's unsuccessful.