Big data and Marketing, Implications for Nigeria
The few times Bayo Adekanbi, MTN’s Chief Transformation Officer has had calls to present papers on Data science and related themes, he always holds his audience spell-bound with his incisive analysis, in-depth knowledge and practical examples.
The same momentum was sustained by the brilliant scholar at Brandcrunch Learning Session with the theme; “Marketing in the era of big data: The changing Paradigm”. Bayo, the lead speaker, painted scenarios that will soon completely transform marketing nay organizations in Nigeria, via the use of data-driven decision making as it is being deployed to transform markets. In fact, the business of data analytics considers everyone a walking data generator leaving long data trails in a digital world.
It is instructive to note that in this age of globally competitive digital economy, organisations no longer base marketing and management judgements on myths but rely on impetus that can provide comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, regulations, competitors, suppliers, employees and more.
Unlike the mythical philosophy which Uyi Stewart, US-based Nigerian data scientist and IBM chief data scientist referred to in which many farmers in the rural areas and their counterparts in Kenya wait for butterflies to come as a signs for the rains hence suggesting time to plant their seeds, “Big data” /data science offers information and analytics precise and apt decision on all matters. It offers valuable and differentiated asset to drive growth and brand equity of a business concern.
The MTN chief left no stone unturned as he drew extensive analysis on how big data will optimize marketing effort. This, according to him, is done by using analytics to dig deeper into segments like buying behavior and consumer preferences rather than only using basic demographic information such as age, gender and geographical location to define segments and personas.
Such innovation and precision offered by big data in analyzing behavioural patterns of humans include considerations on what people are talking about on the social media and have been able to show such expansive data in sensible ways.
Similarly, the second speaker, Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas complemented the first but was more direct as he envisaged a scenario that could see a great number of personal drivers losing their jobs in the very near future, as a result of big data. Although, it became mind boggling to the audience, this is a stark reality facing the ever changing technological world we live in. The audience adrenaline rose higher when Bayo, underscored Steve’s earlier proposition during the discussion segment by giving a shocking but incisive analysis of how Nigerians have already started losing jobs as many international companies have set up their offices in Bangalore, India, which has become a concentrated domain for Information Technology. While this is not yet a collapse for the entire business life in the country, the Brandcrunch Learning Session could not have come up at a better time than this as it serves as a wakeup call to the marketing nay stakeholders in business, the government and the public at large on the need to reflect on a better tomorrow.
One take-away from Steve’s “The Human face to big data”, is that, as ‘data becomes the new oil of the world’, then there is the need for combined efforts from all stakeholders in marketing and management in Nigeria to maximize its potential.
For instance, a comparative look by Africa Infotech Consulting showing how Nigeria’s energy sector has evolved since the early 2000’s, compared with how its ICT and broader technology industry has emerged, and the opportunities that both represent for the future, there is no gain saying the fact that technology revolution has contributed more. Hence, If the potential is properly harnessed by building world-class local capacity in data science, it will serve as a catalyst for the development of sectors such as travel, hospitality,power, manufacturing, digital innovations educational institutions and others.
In the United States for instance, manufacturers now have the capability of serving their clients through compelling engagement. This comes in form of gathering customer data through sensors that are implanted in the products purchased while the results are useful even for after sales services such as maintenance. Perhaps, time saving has been a plus for big data in the manufacturing business in the US as it has by-passed the time, effort, and money used in making prototypes while also performing simulated performance on a design before committing resources on such a product.
In fact, it is on record that use of big data by companies driving successful businesses in the United States has been projected to take the country in to the next era of economic strength which is a good thing to emulate. Elsewhere in the world, companies have started using big data to expand their traditional data sets with social media data, browser logs as well as text analytics and sensor data to get a more complete picture of their customers.
As any new idea will have its fears and apprehension, the team of discussants featuring Boye Adefila, Sola Salako-Ajulo and Lampe Omoyele expressed worry over loss of jobs, consumer privacy, Nigeria’s ability to interpret and integrate the data, and cyber security. While their fears can’t be dismissed with a wave of hand, combining someone’s personal information with vast external data sets can make one infer new facts about that person or situation.
The challenge to all is, what are you doing to retool so that you can be relevant? According to the speakers, there will be job losses but new ones will also be created, therefore, one must keep himself updated and relevant. “There will always be gaps but human beings will survive”.
This piece was sent in by Sunday Ogunniyi. Sunday has master’s degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan and he is currently an English Language instructor. He once worked as a staff writer and later news editor with Marketing and management magazine.