The segment of one

DimplerI was at Strata + Hadoop World in New York last month, but did not notice this presentation in the agenda (FWIW, I don’t think O’Reilly’s conference agendas are easy to read nor attendee-friendly). But then, I somehow stumbled onto this excellent piece by Virginia Heffernan on Backchannel: Big Moose Is Watching You. It tells the big data customer segmentation story of Maine-based outerwear retailer L. L. Bean. Obviously Virginia is better at navigating the conference agendas than I am, and was able to relate this story told at Strata.

I won’t repeat what’s in the article, which is definitely worth a read. Just maybe summarize the conclusion: your marketing is much more efficient if you are targeting the customer with the exact products they like and are interested in. It’s “know your customer”, but elevated to the power of 10. This reminds me of another story I have heard of fine-grain customer segmentation. Continue reading

Big data: a means or an end?

plastic_bottlesIf we had to pick one technology that has been capturing the attention of everyone lately, I think Big Data would qualify. But what is big data, and more importantly, why do we care so much about big data?

A lot of focus today is placed on the data itself, and on the tool chain that enables big data (the cost-effective and innovative thing). One can’t help but wonder: is big data an end in itself? Sure, Hadoop is cool, but what is it really used for? At the end of the day, why are we collecting, storing, processing, analyzing all this data? Have we become data collectors? Continue reading