Big Data is reshaping the marketing profession as it is increasingly used to mediate the consumer-brand relationship. But does the technology-driven approach to data analytics mean that progress is stalled?

We need to look to the human side of data for Big Data investments to be realized.

At times, the debate in marketing about the use of data seems very polarized. On the one hand are fierce critics such as advertising industry luminary John Hegarty, co-founder of advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. He argues strongly about the dangers of being "slave to data"  and how "data in itself creates nothing. It's creativity which makes things."

On the other side of the argument are a wide range of marketers, technologists, and consultants promoting the value of data as a means of driving impressive levels of growth. McKinsey, for example, has estimated that a retailer using Big Data can potentially increase its margin by more than 60%.

My belief is that it is too easy to take a polarized position. The answer is neither purely about data driving the agenda nor simply about ignoring this amazing resource. So, how do you walk a middle path through this?

Overwhelmed by So Much Data

Brands are just not sure how to manage the vast expanse of data they now have available to them.

A recent survey with business decision makers found that only 27% considered their company able to turn their customer data into useful information and act on it.

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Colin Strong is a consumer researcher, working with global brands to helping to get the most out of their data assets. His book, Humanizing Big Data, is published by Kogan Page.

LinkedIn: Colin Strong

Twitter: @colinstrong