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Capitalizing on the big data revolution

Eppie Vojt - UNC Kenan-FlaglerBig data can revolutionize the way business is done – if you understand it.

“Big data is a term that gets thrown around a fair amount, and it gets misused quite frequently,” says Eppie Vojt, vice president of marketing for Red Ventures. Vojt defines big data as information that requires computational power to store, process and analyze to yield insights that drive meaningful action.

And while big data has been a hot topic for some time, the ability to leverage that data is more feasible than ever before thanks to decreased storage costs and increased storage flexibility and speed.

Now, with companies moving beyond the mere acquisition and storage of data, Vojt says many corporate leaders are asking the same question: Once we get this massive amount of data, how do we analyze and leverage it to benefit the company?

Luckily, says Vojt, many of the rules for finding success in life also apply to successfully harnessing the power of big data.

Pursue positive information asymmetry.

For years, Vojt would watch the 6:30 p.m. showing of Jeopardy before joining his parents to watch a re-run of the show later in the evening. His parents were significantly impressed by Vojt’s ability to spout off correct answers – before they caught on, that is!

Vojt applies the same tactic at Red Ventures. While many traditional firms pull data from Google Ad Words on a weekly or monthly basis, Red Ventures pulls this data every five minutes. Using the most current data allows the firm to better understand customer demographics and search information, he says.

Having – and understanding – more information than your competitors always works to your advantage. “If you go in and have better information than they do, game over,” he says. “You win.”

Eppie Vojt - UNC Kenan-FlaglerDe-average whenever possible.

Given the large amounts of data – more than 2.5 exabytes – amassed every day, effective time and resource allocation are essential when working with big data, says Vojt.

De-averaging helps focus attention on the information that will be most useful – just as students do when studying for an exam. “It would be silly to study things that you are already good at or things that are less likely to be on the test,” says Vojt. The same philosophy applies when working with big data.

Employ compounding returns.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.”

In business, strategic investment in one area can lead to greater returns down the road, says Vojt.

Unlike a traditional marketing firm, Red Ventures controls the entire acquisition process – from generating demand to closing the sale. The firm uses proprietary technology platforms to collect, track and analyze big data to identify opportunities to increase profits.

When the company improves one part of the marketing funnel, it leads to greater profits later on, says Vojt. For instance, tweaking marketing efforts at the top of the funnel to gain a larger number of website impressions will eventually lead to a higher acquisition of customers.

The key to success, Vojt says, is for companies to not only collect big data, but use insights from it to identify opportunities to improve and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Vojt spoke to students, faculty and staff as part of a special event featuring UNC Kenan-Flagler corporate partner Red Ventures, the country’s largest technology-enabled platform for growing sales and marketing businesses.