In a world abuzz about “Big Data,” there is a rapidly growing awareness of a major gap in strategic roadmaps: collecting and maintaining “Small Data.” As the industry struggles to define Big Data, let alone determine how best to manage and leverage it, there is a real risk of missing a critical window of opportunity: establishing a competitive advantage through a single, accurate, and “actionable” view of customers and their permissions and preferences.

“Big Data” refers to the billions (or trillions) of digital artifacts left behind by customers as they shop for, purchase, and ultimately use various products and services. The potential sources of data are endless, and the ability to directly correlate any one artifact to an individual and to the specific purchase (or non-purchase) event ranges from exacting to exceedingly difficult. Once accumulated and assigned to a person – or more likely associated to a large segment of people – the “Big Data” must be analyzed, modeled and interpreted to determine whether a statistically sound method of leveraging the historic data as a prediction of future behavior can be ascertained. Only then can the daunting challenge of applying and optimizing the results begin!

“Small Data,” generated through the collection of permissions and preferences, couldn’t be more different. The process of garnering Small Data begins with... and by... the creation
of each individual’s customer profile. Typically this is started by the company, then ideally exposed to and maintained by the customer. Over time, a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship is fostered. And if done correctly, the process results in a growing base of en- gaged customers proactively sharing key bits of highly valuable information. Those few small nuggets of preference information directly identify the products and services of most interest to the customer — no guessing required. Combined with permissions, a guidebook on how the company can best communicate with the customer in the future, they become the very essence of small, powerful and valuable data.

Unfortunately, given the myopic focus of so many companies on “Big Data,” and epic skepti- cism on the part of customers on the efficacy of sharing their wants and desires, few robust “Small Data” centers exist. Even worse, those that have been established frequently fail to realize their full potential due to lack of current and actionable information.

The purpose of this whitepaper — sponsored by PossibleNOW and written by Consumer Centric Strategy’s CEO Gregg Aamoth — is to incite and encourage change by:

1. Highlighting the importance of “Small Data” in the strategic and tactical Marketing and Customer Care business processes and the roadmaps for the systems and data that enable them.

2. Building awareness of the urgency and potential obstacles facing companies which have yet to establish a comprehensive plan to elicit and adhere to customers’ permissions and preferences.

3. Presenting a “Buy vs. Build” business case for an Enterprise Preference Management ecosystem; focusing on time to market, functionality, flexibility, cost, and ROI.