I had the opportunity to attend the T3Summit in Las Vegas last week, which discussed trends, technology and thought. Although the conference leaned towards real estate, discussions ranged from success principles, to technology trends and even to space travel. One of the concepts discussed was “big data”.
Technically, “Big Data” is any data that lives in a non structured (ie noSQL) database such as Facebook’s Graph data base. It has nothing to do with the size or complexity of the data. We discussed how the computing power in the world has increased exponentially and how this has led to the power to crunch large amounts of data in record time to see trends as they are happening in real time.
I first saw the power of this type of number crunching when I worked for Altos Research in 2010. As the Communications Director for four real estate association’s in the SF Bay Area, it was my job to take the data from the local multiple listing service and decipher the data to create press releases so the media could report the health of the housing market to the public. The problem was, the data was always 45 days late, and in a rapidly escalating or falling market, timing is key.
I discovered Altos Research in 2009 when the CEO, Mike Simonsen, was attending real estate technology events touting his predictive analytics. I was intrigued with the fact that Mike was taking information from the MLS’s and the open web and getting real time data showing the housing market as it was happening NOW. He had created a way to crunch large amounts of data and use it for charts and graphs for Realtors to be able to have a discussion with their sellers about how the market was behaving now..not 45 days ago, so they could make wise pricing decisions.
He was also giving Realtors with buyers the information so they could expertly negotiate prices with sellers and see if now was a good time to buy based on past and current market performance. I knew he was onto something big. Predictive analytics. He was able to sell his data stream to large customers like CoreLogic who helped investors make wise decisions about purchasing swaths of foreclosed homes. Was the market heading up or down?
Now, three years later everyone is talking about Big Data. I even bought the book “Big Data” after attending the T3Summit and Inman News did a story about it this week. I know this technology is a marketing bonanza. Companies using this fire hose of data correctly can pin point when you are most likely to buy or sell a home, help you make purchasing decisions like when is the best time to buy an airline ticket, and more. Of course, they will also be tracking everything the consumer does online so marketers will know much more about their target demographic than ever before. With the advent of big data, the ability to crack the code on how to match marketing messages to timing will become much easier and cost effective.
Facebook will be releasing to the general public the Facebook Graph Search. This will be a very powerful tool that will allow you to set up complex search results aimed at the things people mention in their Facebook posts. With millions of people posting about what they are doing, what they are buying and what they like…think about THAT fire house of big data. And then mix in some time for researchers to get a handle on the data and start predicting our wants and needs? A gold mine for marketers? A targeted ad experience for consumers? What do you think?