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Big Data Marketing: Engage Your Customers More Effectively and Drive Value by Lisa Arthur

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Chapter 8

Step Three

Untangle the Data Hairball

Source: © Teradata 2013

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I'll be the first to admit it. Hairballs are disgusting. As any pet owner will tell you, they cause indigestion, gagging…and worse. So, why would I choose the word hairball to describe marketing's big data problem? I use it precisely because it elicits such a visceral response and because whenever I first mention the data hairball to a roomful of marketers, I sense immediate recognition. Heads start nodding in agreement. Nervous smiles appear. Some people shuffle their feet as if they could sidestep the very thought of it. Audiences know exactly what I'm talking about when I use the term, and that doesn't surprise me at all.

Marketers are on the front lines, battling the chaos of traditional and digital information that accumulates 24/7. They're the ones who recognize the enormous complexity of the situation. They're the ones who feel the knot of anxiety in their stomachs when they're called into the C-suite to present strategies that often lack the supporting data needed to make a compelling case.

Former Kodak Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Jeffrey Hayzlett, who now serves as an advisor to other CMOs and CEOs, admitted to me when we were discussing data-driven marketing in the spring of 2013 that he knew the hairball all too well, and that he had struggled with it at Kodak.

“I was coughing up the data hairball ...

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