Marketers worldwide plan to splurge on big data operations and the people needed to run them, according to a new study from Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive, two Infogroup-owned marketing firms.
The report surveyed more than 700 marketers who attended the Direct Marketing Association's 2012 annual conference and the Forrester Research eBusiness Forum in October 2012. It found that 68% of marketers predict their data-related expenses will rise "greatly or slightly" in 2013, while only 3% think their data spending will decrease.
There's also good news for job seekers, assuming the survey's findings come true: More than half (56%) of respondents plan to hire new employees for data collection or analysis, and 5% say they plan to hire an executive to manage their data projects, the study shows.
Of course, one should always approach such surveys with a healthy degree of skepticism, particularly when the group conducting the study has a vested interest. But the Infogroup study's findings are in line with reports from other sources, which also predict big growth for big data this year.
[ Take a look at some of the intriguing ways we're using big data today. See Big Data's Surprising Uses: From Lady Gaga To CIA. ]
Gartner, for instance, said 4.4 million IT jobs will be created worldwide by 2015 to support big data operations, including 1.9 million in the United States.
Spending on big data projects and jobs may also have a sizable impact on corporate budgets in 2013. The Infogroup/YesMail survey shows that marketers are increasingly focused on real-time data, analytics and integrated multichannel marketing. And Gartner predicts that big data will spur $34 billion in global IT spending in 2013.
Marketers are now focusing more on data analysis than data collection, according to the Infogroup study. Some 45% of respondents say that analyzing or applying information about their customers will be their biggest data-related challenge in 2013. Only 11% see data collection as their most difficult task.
"In 2013, brands should be taking a disciplined approach to building out their data operations. Data collection has been the easy part; the new challenge will be connecting the dots between different types of data across multiple channels," said Michael Fisher, president of Yesmail Interactive, in a statement.
The survey also highlights the growing emphasis on real-time data collection and analysis. More than half of respondents say they're already using real-time data in marketing campaigns and plan to use it more often in 2013. And 30% of marketers surveyed either plan to use real-time information for the first time this year, or are considering using it.
Data streams from social media services are quickly becoming a viable source of real-time insights. Nearly 80% of respondents say they plan to use customer information from social media in marketing campaigns on other channels, such as the marketer's website and email.
The survey is potentially good news for data analytics firms that mine social media for actionable information. For instance, Topsy Labs, a five-year-old analytics startup based in San Francisco, can sift through hundreds of millions of daily Twitter posts to capture public sentiment very quickly.
"We're starting to see, from a marketing and publishing perspective, organizations executing real-time content decisioning based on what people are saying on social networks," Topsy chief revenue officer Eddie Smith told InformationWeek in a phone interview last August.
Other big data-oriented companies, including Gnip and DataSift, also provide real-time data from Twitter and other social media services to their enterprise clients, which mine the information for marketing and other business-related insights.
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