By 2015, companies will spend nearly $17 billion on Big Data technologies, and the total Big Data market is predicted to approach $50 billion by 2017.

The implications of those massive investments are still being sorted out, but thanks to predictive and prescriptive analytics, we confidently can say that Big Data is well-positioned to deliver a compelling ROI.

But before you dive head first into this new world, you need to get a handle on Big Data and its applications. Here are five principles regarding Big Data that successful companies understand.

1. Companies that embrace Big Data will outperform competitors in virtually every financial metric

Mastery of Big Data applications will enable you to create a significant competitive advantage in your marketing programs. According to Gartner, companies that invest in Big Data more than their competitors do outperform those competitors by 20% in every major metric.

Big Data and data science help you uncover new patterns of customer behaviors and identify the segments most likely to buy that product or service at that time. And Big Data applications don't just highlight a goal or destination. They give you prescriptive instructions—integrated with your enterprise applications—with step-by-step instructions (often automated) to help you reach your new goals.

For instance, suppose a major distributor has 100,000 customers. With Big Data applications, the chief marketing officer can apply data science to predict which of those customers are most likely to buy in the next 30 days. That's an indispensable advantage leading to better sales growth and increased market share.

2. Big Data is ideally suited to drive sales growth through more effective marketing

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image of Tim Girgenti

Tim Girgenti is chief marketing officer at PROS, a Big Data software company that helps customers outperform in their markets by using big data to sell more effectively.

LinkedIn: Tim Girgenti
Twitter: @timgirgenti