Monday Mar 09, 2015

Going Beyond Big Data: A Conversation with Tara Roberts

By Rowena Toguchi and Maggie Schneider Huston


March is Influencer month on the Oracle Social Spotlight blog! Today’s influencer is data guru Tara Roberts, Vice President of Oracle Data Cloud.

Oracle Social: How would you define “big data”? Isn't it less about "big" data and more about the "small" data that provides data-driven business insights and actions?  


Tara Roberts: Big data is meaningless unless businesses have a way to 1) extract important signals from the noise and 2) have the ability to “act on” those insights to target, personalize and measure every customer interaction. The companies who win are the ones who are able to uniquely predict their customers’ desires and intentions and to personalize, plan and react before their competitors can. The answer is to “know more” with unique data insights, not just access to big data – which, as a standalone is more of a business challenge than an opportunity.


What is the greatest misconception about “big data?”


I would say one of the biggest misconceptions is to say that “big data” is only relevant to IT organizations.  The whole concept of Data as a Service is to shift that thinking to data intelligence being a competitive driver for the entire business across sales, marketing and customer intelligence. Some of the most successful companies rely on data-driven decisions and our mission is to provide the largest set of enterprise-ready data assets and services to power smarter actions everywhere. The key is to make this data accessible (without the need of IT implementation) and actionable (through direct integration with applications and platforms.) Everyone in the board room should be involved in the “big data” discussion as a way to differentiate – not just for IT.  


Data is used for a variety of business objectives - developing customer profiles, personalization, targeting, product development, product enhancements, etc. Where do you see data growing in importance the most during the next 12 to 18 months? Is it with marketing technology?  


I definitely see the use of data growing beyond just influencing the marketing interaction. Data is the unifying thread that will help companies connect every customer touchpoint and it’s critical that there is a common way to ensure consistent and meaningful interactions across the entire customer journey. One of the biggest challenges that we address is the ability to identify customers and prospects across any channel and any device. It means having the ability to stitch together IDs across offline (addresses) to known online (email), to anonymous online (cookies) to mobile (mobile ID). Creating that linkage in the form of an audience graph is a top initiative for the Oracle Data Cloud. 


Let's talk social. Social data is unique as it reveals intents - a person's likes, dislikes, desires, wants, etc.  How is Oracle leveraging its SRM and social data to help customers capitalize on understanding, targeting and engaging with their customers and prospects better?


Businesses can start to better understand their customers and prospects by knowing more about what they do, what they buy and what they say. Social data provides an uncensored view into what consumers are saying, how they are feeling, and key trends around your brand. One of the ways that we are looking to extend social listening capabilities is to link social insights with business intelligence data to delve further into how a social spike, or a positive or negative sentiment may impact positive or a dip in sales. This really takes social insights to a different level.  


As Gartner research says, “Content does not conform to a specific, pre-defined data model. It tends to be the human-generated and people-oriented content that does not fit neatly into database tables.” Unstructured data demands new analytical approaches. The value big data provides is the ability to capture the entire picture of everyday people. This can lead to a bevy of challenges:  missed signals, inaccurate conclusions, bad decisions, etc. How does Oracle’s technologies, like Oracle Data Cloud, Oracle CX Solutions, help combat this challenge? 


Gartner also predicted that enterprise data will grow by 800 percent in five years, with 80 percent of it unstructured. This definitely means that if left untapped, businesses will lose valuable insights and signals from their unstructured data assets. Oracle Data Cloud is working on combating this challenge straight on in an upcoming data as a service product release. I can't tell you much more than that – look for more details from Omar Tawakol, GVP and GM of Oracle Data Cloud, at SXSW on March 13th at the Hyatt Regency at 3.30pm in the Zilker Ballroom.   

Wednesday Feb 25, 2015

Social Insights from the #LeadOnCA Watermark Conference

By Meg Bear, Group Vice President, Oracle Social Cloud Platform

Yesterday was an inspiring day of thoughtful discussion at the Lead On Silicon Valley Watermark Conference for Women. Over 5,000 people gathered to discuss the issues that matter the most to women in the workforce. I am proud that Oracle sponsored this fantastic event to support the development of women leaders.

Moderated by Cindy Solomon (@CindySolomon), I spoke with Juliet de Baubigny (@JulietDeb1), Jami McKeon and Rima Qureshi about how organizations create courageous innovation within the workforce.

These discussions didn’t just happen in person – they carried over to the digital realm as well. Using the Oracle Social Cloud Social Relationship Manager (SRM) platform, we learned that over 6.6 million people were reached yesterday via #LeadOnCA. Hillary Clinton was the most talked about speaker (1,922 mentions) and the main theme of the conference was “Women and Men” which encompassed messages about gender equality, and the glass ceiling.


Oracle Social Cloud SRM also provided real time social media visualization of #LeadOnCA commentary across social networks.

Oracle Social Cloud’s data visualization of social media posts about #LeadOnCA

As people posted about #LeadOnCA on social networks, our advanced listening technology filtered these into a beautiful visual displays throughout the conference. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and our expertise allows participants to see what people are talking about in real time.

I’d like to thank Watermark for putting on this event and for their mission to increase representation of women in leadership roles. It is exciting to think of what the future holds for empowered women.

Friday May 17, 2013

Data Adoption Must Come Before Social ROI

On May 14, Social Media Today hosted the webinar “What Is Social ROI Made of? New Revenue or Reduced Costs?” with a panel consisting of Oracle VP Product Strategy Erika Brookes, MarketShare CEO Wes Nichols, and V3 Integrated Marketing CEO Shelly Kramer. Based on the number of retweets, things were said that really hit home. Below are some of the discussion’s highlights.

go team gorillaEB: If you’re looking for social ROI, you have to start with a strategy. Big data and little data must then connect back to that strategy.

SK: The C-level feels as long as we’re on Twitter and have a Facebook page, social is covered. When you ask what their goals for it are and how it ties back to their strategy, they have an “Oh my God” moment.

EB: Data fuels the belief that with all this digital data, surely we can do a better job of telling the story of what works and what doesn’t work. True, but you have to know what the intent was for getting into social in the first place.

WN: Companies operate in swim lanes. Direct mail is a lane. PR is a lane. Social is a lane. Each lane reports its own ROI, often self-serving, which doesn’t help the CFO. It’s critical to know how these lanes interact with each other.

SK: Marketers know what needs to be done. They know what’s important. But they aren’t staffed or resourced to collect the data, analyze it, and leverage it.

EB: It’s not just about marketing anymore. It’s about how do I attribute across the company. That’s where the data problem grows enormously and the call for marketers to be prepared goes up. The CMO has to collaborate with IT and sales.

WN: What used to be done by marketers isn’t possible anymore. You have to have the technology infrastructure to process the data. Most don’t have that set up internally.

EB: People have legacy tech, then buy new tech, and those things aren’t hinging together. That has to happen for real time insight. Marketers must share with IT the metrics on which they’ll be measured. That’s what facilitates actionable decision-making.

WN: It’s not so much a sales funnel anymore, it’s a pinball machine. A social post might bounce you to a video. The video might bounce you to a search. The search might bounce you to a coupon. The coupon might bounce you into the store to buy something.

SK: Even smart marketers still think a 40k/year person running the social channels has it covered. That’s far from the case. Job descriptions want a digital strategist, social strategist, email strategist, content strategist, and business analyst all rolled into one person…for maybe 70k. That’s craziness.

EB: Even at 100k you won’t find someone who does all those aspects really well, because they’re very distinct functions and disciplines.

SK: Expectations are totally out of whack with what they want to pay somebody. Just pushing out your content is not integrating social into business objectives toward any hope of ROI.

WN: There’s no correlation or causation between vanity metrics and P&L or ROI impact. Once they see the lift impact of social, they’ll allocate for staffing. Until then, they’re going to keep dabbling.

EB: Marketers want this. But are they really prepared for the wholesale changes required inside the organization?

WN: You have to look broad to look narrow. You have to look at the ROI of marketing to get to the ROI of social. You can’t measure at a what’s-under-your-nose campaign level.

SK: Content marketing is so not new. But we’re struggling to get clients to understand the importance of content strategy and how that, SEO, et al works to drive leads. We’re struggling to get clients to understand the importance of data to drive business strategy.

EB: Companies realize they’ve built audience, but now how do you turn that into engagement and sales? More marketers are asking for help turning those opportunities into something the rest of the organization can activate upon. CMO tenures are increasing, not declining, because they’re thinking broadly about social and tech, and the data is there to tell success stories.

WN: CMO’s can be at the executive table, armed with proof of impact. Otherwise they get relegated to the kids’ table. Being numbers-oriented doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Analytics can show the impact of creative and thereby get more funding for it. But without numbers, marketing looks soft and thus an easy place to make cuts.

SK: If you try to do this on the cheap, you’re going to get what you pay for and you’re going to get what you deserve. You have to be in it to win it.

WN: You’re CEO has to embrace the changes that are underway. Marketing is not yell and sell, it’s customer dialogue and relationship building, leveraging social.

EB: Oracle did a study with The Economist and found companies with cross collaboration across departments, taking advantage of disruptive technologies, are the most successful. Marketers can start the dialogue internally about data sources and the metrics you’ll be measured on. Get the buy-in and structure in place.

WN: We can prove the impact of marketing is larger than what they’re currently getting credit for. You need the tools to defend and grow marketing investments. Analytics is like electricity running through the whole organization. It will one day be as taken for granted as electricity.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng, Glenn Pebley

Friday Nov 09, 2012

How Big Data and Social Won the Election

Woman VotingThe story of big data’s influence on the outcome of the US Presidential election is worth a good look, because a) it’s a harbinger of things to come, and b) it’s an example of similar successes available to any enterprise seriously resourcing integrated big data, modeling, and data-driven execution on all assets, including social.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina fielded a data and analytics brain trust 5 times larger than 2008. At that time, there were numerous databases from various sources, few of them talking to each other. This time, the mission was to be metrics-centered and measure everything measurable, and in context with all the other data.

Big data showed them exactly what they needed to know and told them what to do about it.

It showed them women 40-49 on the west coast would donate big money if they got to eat with George Clooney. Women on the east coast would pony up to hang out with Sarah Jessica Parker. Extensive daily modeling showed them what kinds of email appeals, from who, and to whom, would prove most successful in raising cash, recruiting volunteers, and getting out the vote. Swing state voters were profiled and approached with more customized targeting that at any time in history.

Ads were purchased on specific shows watched by the targets, increasing efficiency 14% over traditional media buys. For all the criticism of the candidate’s focus on appearing on comedy and entertainment shows, and local radio morning shows, that’s where the data sent them to reach the voters most likely to turn out for them.

And then there was social. Again, more than in any other election, Facebook was used for virtual, highly efficient door-to-door canvasing. Facebook fans got pictures of friends in swing states and were asked to encourage them to act. Using that approach, 1 in 5 peer-to-peer appeals led to the desired action.

Assumptions, gut, intuition, campaign experience, all took a backseat to strategy shifts solidly backed up by data. Zeroing in on demographics likely to back the President and tracking their mood daily literally changed the voter landscape. The Romney team watched Obama voters appear seemingly out of thin air. One Obama campaign aide said, “We ran the election 66,000 times every night.”

Which brings us to your organization.

If you’re starting to feel like the battle-cry of “but this is the way we’ve always done it” is starting to put you in an extremely vulnerable position, you’re right. Social has become a key communication tool of the 21st century. Failing to use it, or failing to invest in a deep understanding of who your customers and prospects are so the content you post there will achieve desired actions and results, will leave you waking up one morning wondering, “What happened?”

@mikestiles
Photo stock.xchng

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