Is There Big Money in Big Data?

4. May 2012

Date: 04-05-2012
Source: Technology Review

Many entrepreneurs foresee vast profits in mining data from online activity and mobile devices. One Wharton business school professor strongly disagrees.

Cut the nonsense: Peter Fader says a flood of consumer data collected from mobile devices may not help marketers as much as they think.

Few ideas hold more sway among entrepreneurs and investors these days than “Big Data.” The idea is that we are now collecting so much information about people from their online behavior and, especially, through their mobile phones that we can make increasingly specific predictions about how they will behave and what they will buy.

But are those assumptions really true? One doubter is Peter Fader, codirector of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also a professor of marketing. Fader shared some of his concerns in an interview with reporter Lee Gomes.

TR: How would you describe the prevailing idea about Big Data inside the tech community?

Fader: “More is better.” If you can give me more data about a customer—if you can capture more aspects of their behavior, their connections with others, their interests, and so on—then I can pin down exactly what this person is all about. I can anticipate what they will buy, and when, and for how much, and through what channel.

So what exactly is wrong with that? Read the rest of this entry »