5 Small Data Articles You Need to Read

As I prepared my presentation on small data for the recent DCG Insights day in New York, I did a quick review of some of the latest coverage of the topic, and discovered a number of new articles worth checking out. This list just scratches the surface, so I’ll add to it in subsequent posts, but wanted to share this first batch as a reading list for those interested in the topic.  Enjoy!

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5. Inc.com – Why Small Data May Be Bigger Than Big Data – in this piece which came out in April, x-McKinsey consultant and loyalty expert Victor Ho argues that small data is the key to solving the “data divide” for local businesses.

4. ITworldBig Data Benefits with Small Data – tech journalist Brian Proffitt questions the necessity of big data for non government agencies or businesses that don’t have giga-scale ecommerce sites, and references the notion of personal data stores – a distinct small data use case. His closing point is a good one:

“Thanks to big data, many businesses recognize the value of data analysis. But there may be several new paths that will open up to help them achive the benefits of data decision making.”

3. MediaPost – Does Big Data Require a Big Rethink? – in this commentary Michael Hemsey of Kobie Marketing urges brands to focus on “the little details,” calls out his recommendations for thinking small when it comes to data assets, and talks about the age of mini-measurement – which is a cool way to put it!

2. Marketing Week – Big Data, Small Data- in this feature from May, Charles Randall from SAS reminds us that big data is made up of small data, and opens with a clever “letter to marketers:”

“I don’t want to have a relationship with a marketing department. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to engage in conversation with you. I feel no loyalty towards you. When I say I like you I’m not entirely sincere. 

And yet I chose to share an enormous amount of my life with you. The detail I’m able and happy to share has grown big. Really, really big. But understand this: my reason for sharing this data is entirely motivated by self-interest. You see, I know as much about you as you do about me. I know how valuable my data can be to you. So I expect you to use this data for my benefit. Because you can be damn sure I will be.”

His conclusion is that small data is specific and concrete, which makes it easier to to “make good use of it.” And more so, requires us to understand our customers, their lives and where we fit within them. This is exactly the connection I’m looking to make between the worlds of CRM and small data, in the research I’m ramping up at Digital Clarity Group.

1. The Guardian (UK)Forget Big Data, Small Data is the Real Revolution – one of the most widely referenced pieces of the last few months, Open Knowledge Foundation founder Rufus Pollock frames big data as the latest “centralization fad” and notes:

“the real opportunity is not big data, but small data. Not centralized “big iron”, but decentralized data wrangling. Not “one ring to rule them all” but “small pieces loosely joined.”

I love the point about decentralization, which ties nicely into the social aspect of small data. In fact Pollock ends with a great framing of small data as part of a larger movement driven by digital disruption and democratization of IT:

“This next decade belongs to distributed models not centralized ones, to collaboration not control, and to small data not big data.”

Well said!

In terms of older articles, check out my guest post in Forbes from last October, and the early piece by Patrick Gray in TechRepublic that argues for a practical, consolidated approach to data and reporting.

What articles did I miss? What’s on your “must read” list?

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