Earlier this week, Mikkel B. Rasmussen of ReD Associates wrote a piece entitled Big Data is Only Half the Data Marketers Need. Mikkel’s main point – that we must combine our analysis of both forms of customer data – is spot-on. He is a very bright and accomplished consultant, and certainly a valuable resource for marketers. That being said, one might get the impression through this HBR piece that he’s the only cat on the planet who has figured this out.

Most agree that a major shift in how agencies and corporate marketers have traditionally approached the analysis and application of customer data is critical. There are plenty of examples, thankfully, where this transition is already underway. For some agencies, however, it has required a cultural and organizational transformation to achieve the desired result that Mikkel describes. While agency leaders need the vision, courage, discipline and guts to transform and stay the course, I can state with a great deal of certainty that splitting an atom* is not among the requirements.

big data

For me, one of the key areas where the rubber meets the road is with extraordinary talent. It comes down to the identification and recruitment of true hybrids that are wired to effectively analyze the critical intersecting points above and beyond qualitative and quantitative data. These hybrids are the logical thinkers who have found a way to unlock the power of the right side of their brain. On top of that, they have a deep understanding and “feel” for the specific societal and cultural trends that are most impactful. These hidden gems, who are worth their weight in gold, possess a unique ability to cull the actionable insights that emanate from “big” and “thick” data.

Over the past 10 years at Taylor, we have made a commitment to better understand the relationships (and differences) between data analysts, consumer insight specialists, top-level brand planners and technologists. As public relations practitioners, we had to shift our own thought process in order to embrace a more strategic mindset. With the guidance of my former colleague, a truly outstanding brand planner by the name of Dr. Christian Alfonsi, Taylor gained a great deal knowledge, respect and appreciation for the approach and discipline required to create value-laden solutions.

If, by chance, you still believe there’s a need to split an atom, I’d be pleased to introduce you to Dr. Alessandro Masi. Every day at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), my cousin is exploring the universe at the smallest scales with the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. I’m certain he’ll assure you it’s not necessary for marketers to mimic the circumstances from the early universe, from The Big Bang, in order to deliver outstanding results for your client partners.