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Experts Reveal Fears, Prospects And Advantages of Big Data

Big data
L-R: Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN, (keynote speaker); Lampe Omoyele, CEO, Lucent; O’Lekan Babatunde, Publisher, BrandCrunch (convener); Sola Salako-Ajulo, CEO, CAFON; Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas (Speaker) and Boye Adefila, CEO, CopyCoach at the maiden edition of BrandCrunch Learning Session yesterday in Lagos.


The huge possibilities of big data and its potential for the advertising and marketing industry came to fore at the maiden edition of the Brandcrunch Learning Session as experts submit that marketing practitioners in the Nigeria must embrace data as a more scientific way to marketing that works and  prevents marketing / customer mismatch.


As the world is going digital, where big data and Artificial Intelligence is taking over virtually everything as demonstrated by the concept of internet-of-things (IoT). The use of big data for marketing purpose becomes inevitable as people leave trail of data behind in almost every action they take as every smart things around us generates data.


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The learning session with the theme: “Marketing in the era of big data: The changing Paradigm”, becomes necessary according to O’Lekan Babatunde, Convener and Publisher,  Brandcrunch Nigeria, in order to keep the industry at the fore-front of innovation, development and trends in the global marketing and allied industries.


As a veritable platform for the exchange of ideas, learning and profitable information, we have taken it upon ourselves to engender discussions and facilitate sharing of ideas, Babatunde explains, adding that “The Nigeria marketing industry should not be caught napping as the era of big data dawns on everyone.”


Opening his presentation, the lead speaker, Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN fast-forwarded to 2013, painted the picture of what sales and marketing will look like with use of big data.


“It‘s the year 2030, at a hypermarket in Oshodi. I am here for my shopping and I thought that because I was a returning customer, the human-sized welcoming robot at the front door might greet me by my first name.  Impressive! I had learned that robots have special sensors that can swiftly detect a person‘s fingerprint and match it against a database of well over 14 million other customers in a split second for precision identification.”


According to Bayo, a data scientist, the traditional definition of the customer through psycho-graphic and demographic classifications has changed with the advent of big data. Big data enhances “robotic selling” which can offer me “my personalised offer of the week which included a package of ten different attractive offers that reflected my very personal preferences and up until then unexpressed need”. Such offers will be grabbed with open arms as they are made with precision though up until then, they were unexpressed.


Other possible scenarios which are already happening in other climes as painted by the speaker is that in continuation of the “selling” the robot advises the customer on his car insurance, the weather and congratulates him on his son’s birthday.  The customer is stunned and dazed as he is advised to proceed to a counter for a special offer which he finds out is on point.  The bank is linked as a loan proposition is announced to customer by the customer service.



Querying if the above picture is a nano -segmentation or some sort of open-world marketing, Bayo emphasises its reality as he confirms that 35% of amazon.comrevenue is generated by its recommendation engine.


Driving home the reality and functionality big data, he samples the MTN’s IoT algorithmic cow rearing concept in which a SIM is embedded in the animal and makes it a browse-able destination. This is done to stem cattle rustling problem.


“IoT connects all manner of end-points, unraveling a treasure trove of data. Ubiquitous networks and device proliferation enable access to a massive and growing amount of traditionally silo-ed information. Analytics and business intelligence tools empower decision makers as never before by extracting and presenting meaningful information in real time, helping us be more predictive and reactive”


Speaking on the implication of massive data, Bayo claims that there is  “cross-industry shifts and data disruption …every business is becoming a data business”.


According to him, Big Data has changed a lot of things today, ability to connect to the consumers, read their minds, have insight to what they need and when they need it have taken over.


Facebook the largest social media in the world creates no contents; Alibaba the largest online retailer has not inventory; Uber the largest transport company in the word has no physical cars but they all relied on data and give the consumers what they need and when they need”


The implication of this is that the traditional definition has shifted, industry delineation is becoming blurry and the basis of competitiveness is changing at the speed of light



The Data Scientist makes it clear that that the 4Vs of Big Data is changing the age-old 4Ps of marketing – Product, placement, promotion and price.  Instead, data centric   Personalisation; Participation; Peer 2 Peer and Predictive Modeling are taking over.


As the data era dawns on Nigeria and the Advertising industry, the speaker posits that the Future of Advertising lies in 4’s. These 4’s are: Scientists – Apply advance approach to collate and analyse patterns of the behavior from data sources, and drive targeted strategies; Strategists – create aligned category, brand and customer engagement strategies focused on the customer experience and guided by the brand purpose; Story Builders –shape and evolve compelling stories and content to engage external and internal customers , underpinned by the key insights from culture and data analysis; Socialisers – socialize new experiences ideas and content externally and internally and evolve through continuous two-way conversations.


In some climes, robotic creativity and algorithm media planning are already being deployed in the media and marketing space with companies like Samsung already cloud sourcing its creative briefs. For instance, eyeka.com has over 350,000 creatives ready take on briefs from any part of the world. Eyeka, a cloud company and its likes are taking businesses away from brick and mortal agencies.


Opening his presentation on the same theme but drilling it further down to “The Human face of big data”, Steve Babaeko submits that data is the new oil of the world today. In line with the Bayo’s paper, he notes that the world is generating massive data every second, we leave data trails every day. According to Babaeko, by 2020 data volume will be 40 Zeta byte, that is, all the grains of sand in the world multiplied by 75! Quite alarming!


Drilling it down to the marketing industry, Steve explains that the big data via small data, affects the marketing sector through Analytics, Attributing and Algorithms. He however, noted that the consumers’ behaviour is changing, it is therefore important for the marketers and advertising agencies to know the consumers and connect to their eco-system.



So Steve’s posers to the advertising industry include – Do we know today’s consumers?; Are we as connected to the new eco-system or how connected are we? When are we going to pivot? According to him what used to be popular may no longer be relevant; practitioners in the marketing communications industry need to extend and explore the value chain in content and platform to be relevant to a more contemporary people/market. He uses the example of Fracis Odega, who has recorded great movies but remains largely unsung. He was taken up by former Etisalat, connected to the new digital eco-system and he became an instant star.


Also critical to the speaker is the issue of “retooling our people to prepare for the switch over”, as a way to survive what he describes as “tech invasion” or “Techpocalypse”. As part of the retooling, he reckons a situation in which scientists, engineers, tech guys will be employed to work in agencies. According to him, practitioners are used to silos, this explains the widening knowledge gap between the client and agency, therefore, the onus is on us to keep catching up and be more curious.


In the discussion session, the moderator, Emilia Asim-Ita, Senior Consultant, Strategy & External Relations, ThistlePraxis Consulting, taking off from the observable challenges of big data on its unsavoury effects on people especially in jobs, people are vulnerable to lose their jobs because machines are taking over, Artificial Intelligence is taking over! She challenges the speakers.


In the speakers’ reactions to Emilia’s sound for caution, Steve notes that Big Data has answered a lot of questions as to what is to be done in the area of Medical, Engineering, Agriculture, Banking and Social lives but is it also important to note that there are aspects that call for concern, he confirms but as human beings we must take control, says Steve.


Still playing the devil’s advocate, Emilia also points there are tendencies that cyber security and consumer security is at risk, consumers are afraid to lose their privacy ignited some reactions.


Reacting to the issue of privacy and cyber security, the lead speaker explains “every scientific design has its positive and negative aspects, but there is general responsibility and ethics required by people to curtail it and it is important to give adequate information to consumers on what is been done with their data, why it is important? so as to feel secured and inclusive”. According to him, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is like a demon, man must be in control”.


Mrs Sola Salako-Ajulo, a consumer protection advocate and a discussant at the event observes that there is disconnect between consumer and service providers or marketers. “Customers service people feel customers are left with no option but to accept what they are given”. However,  drawing from the speakers’ presentations, Shola is excited that big data is taking over because it’s now speaking  to the needs of consumers.  She maintains that “Either educated or not, a consumer needs something that can speak to his needs”, but she cautions, “The problem with big data is eroding on consumers’ privacy because there is no structure to protect consumers’ privacy.


Boye Adefila, CEO, CopyCoach, another discussant also adds that adaptability important in this era to stay in tune with developments technological developments including big data related issues. Though, not a techie expert but he notes passionately that “customers’ service is being sacrificed and there is a gap between Technology and Customer service”, calling for moderation and ethics to guide the customer service functions even in the big data era.



Mr. Lampe Omoyele, CEO, Lucent, also a discussant while responding to the common place insinuation on the unavailability of data to work with in the country, differs,  claiming instead, “there is lot of data in Nigeria but the issue is how to interpret and integrate it appropriately and derive suitable insights. According to him, research companies must know that data interpretation is essential in order to derive insight to what consumer needs.


In close, the faculty and the panel agree that there is a thin line between security and privacy, “do you release your data for security planning and cover or hold unto it and be vulnerable?”; Yes, there will be job losses but one can convert through skill building across industries/professions.  The challenge to all is what are you doing to retool so that you can be relevant because new jobs will also be created, keep yourself relevant; They also note that “there will always be gaps but human beings will survive”.


The Brandcrunch Session which held under a convivial atmosphere at prestigious Renaissance Hotel, GRA Ikeja, saw a select high profile mix of audience cutting across industries – Marketing, engineering, data scientists, social commentators among others, passionately listening through the entire presentations by the high profile faculty and discussants.


The highly interactive learning session brings out the prospects of big data for humans’ lives and businesses; the fears and the way forward with intelligent comments and questions by highly discerning audience.  Watch this space for the full transcript of the discussion session and other stories.












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