Seemingly everyone is talking about Big Data these days. You can hardly pick up a trade publication or read a marketing blog without some expert or supplier telling you that your future and survival lies with Big Data. And after reading numerous vendor pitches, you would be hard pressed to define what Big Data really is.
A long time ago, one of my peers at Affinity Federal Credit Union said, “Bryan, I can give you all the data you want, right from the core, but what information do you want?” That question really stuck with me. A data strategy really needs to start with a business strategy, so before we start asking for big data, what business question do you hope the data will address? Perhaps it is not simply more or bigger data you need, but rather more diverse data, that will offer the insight you hope to gain. Often that data is right under your nose.
Now let’s forget about Big Data for a moment and let’s consider “Small Data”, or, as it was called prior to Big Data, just plain old data. You have it today, and there is plenty of it, but a lot of us in the industry don’t really use it. Here are some off the cuff examples,:
- I use the same ATM every week. And everytime it asks me if I prefer English, and I always do. Has Rosetta Stone started an ATM network?
- My Birthday is November 4th. It crushes me that my credit union or bank never wished me a Happy Birthday. PayPal did.
- My bank is very active on Twitter, and they know I’m active on Twitter. But they have not associated my Twitter handle with their customer records. AMEX did.
- When a Regions Bank customer checks in to a Regions branch on Foursquare, the bank often tweets out a thank you. They may not associate the check-in with a customer record, but at least they engaged a customer.
- My bank and credit union know I have 2 kids. In 8 years, neither financial institution asked me if I’d like to set up an account for them.
My list could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. You have plenty of data, yet perhaps you are not leveraging it to engage your members in meaningful and relevant ways. Maybe what you really need, after you define what you want from data, is better data, and more intelligent ways to leverage the data that you already have. Chances are, if you are like the majority of financial institutions, you don’t have a data scientist and a team of analysts. So before you think big, you might need to think small.
Not all data is big. Think small data. Think better data. And use what data you have.