Calculating the Returns on Customer Data Investments

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According to IDC, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years. By 2020, the amount of that's created and copied annually will reach 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes. As companies gather boatloads of data to help support their customer strategies, a growing number of firms are taking a closer look at which data sets are delivering the greatest returns on investment.

According to IDC, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years. By 2020, the amount of that's created and copied annually will reach 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes. As companies gather boatloads of data to help support their customer strategies, a growing number of firms are taking a closer look at which data sets are delivering the greatest returns on investment.And for good reason. It's expensive for companies to collect, store, cleanse, and analyze the massive volumes of data that are pouring into the organization, says Lung Huang, vice president of digital advertising and global partnerships at dunnhumby. To help put these costs in perspective, IDG estimates that the average enterprise company will have spent $8 million on Big Data initiatives in 2014.

To be sure, most companies aren't even at the point of attempting to determine which data sets are delivering the biggest bang. The majority of business leaders continue to wrestle with more fundamental challenges such as 'how do I determine which data to use?'.

Still, companies that are further along down the data maturity path are looking more closely at which third party and proprietary data sets are helping them to achieve their top business goals (e.g. efforts to increase customer acquisition, improve customer retention, grow share of wallet, etc.). Making such distinctions can help guide future data investment strategies, including which data types to continue to invest in, which data should be kept and for how long, etc.

With millions of dollars at stake, customer data has become a strategic asset to manage and monitor.

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EXPERT OPINION