Phoenix in the summer. To say it's "hot" is an understatement.  

Weather reports predict a rather balmy 92 degrees F for Thursday of this week.
Mild compared to the last time I attended the Marketing Technology Summit, co-sponsored by the Phoenix chapter of the BMA and the Arizona Technology Council

This year's hot topic is big data — one of the four market imperatives Forrester believes will help companies to thrive in this digital age where buyers, business-to-business included, control most aspects of the purchase process. I'm speaking at the Summit, talking about how B2B marketers can unlock the power of their data. If you are in the Phoenix area, I hope you will join me

Big Data is popular. According to Forrester's Global Data and Analytics survey from last quarter, 28% of almost 1700 business and technology decisions makers told us they plan to implement or further expand their use of big data. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean many different things, and — if you are not careful — you can end up in the big data desert without a drop of insight to quench a growing thirst for customer knowledge (how's that for mixing my metaphors?!?).

Here at Forrester, we look at big data as:

The practices and technology that close the gap between the data available and the ability to turn that data into business insight.

That's a powerful definition because it focuses on what is essential to business: not the magnitude of the data, but what to do with it. My colleagues Holger Kisker and Martha Bennett recently published new research that describes how to plan strategically for big data (subscription required), and they conclude (and I agree) that it is essential first to make the most of the data you have inside your company. This means moving beyond a technology-centric view of big data and starting to close the gap between knowing that data is important and doing something about it.  

To get there, marketers need to work on the 3 C's of Forrester's big data foundation:

  •    Develop the technical capabilities to access, manage, analyze, and deliver customer data and deliver it to the right people.

  •    Help business build an analytics and governance competency that drives marketing decision-making.

  •    Foster a culture that promotes data sharing and data-driven decision-making across marketing and with other functional areas of the business.

Together with the AZTC and BMA, I hope to show B2B marketers present on Thursday what some leading B2B marketers are doing today to embrace their big data destiny, harness the vast array of data available to them, and use it to intercept buyers earlier in the purchase process while helping sales engage with the opportunities most likely to close and return long-term business value. I hope you can join me and more than 250 other B2B marketers, technology managers, venture capitalists, educators, and public policy leaders as we explore the impact of big data on business.