Millennials are changing our world, through sheer numbers and through sheer force of will. As a generation that has grown up with technology, smartphones, and search engines, Millennials are also responsible for driving technological development—and now even the use of Big Data.
Despite the promises, Big Data has been slow to become the game changer it was predicted to be. We collect the data, because that’s the easy part. In fact, we generate about 2.5 billion gigabytes of information every day. But organizations have been challenged to use that information in an effective way, whether internally for more efficiency or externally for improved marketing.
If ever there was a time to figure out how to put that Big Data to work, however, that time is now, if we are to keep up with the demands of the Millennial workers and buyers.
Millennials and Big Data in the Workplace
For this well-educated generation, easy access to data has to be a part of the day-to-day work world. These are the people who immediately adapted to the idea of Waze, Uber, and AirBnB. They are comfortable providing personal information to an app, and in return, they expect every piece of information they could want to be immediately accessible to them, at home and at work.
As a result, Millennials are driving change in the workplace. They use data in their daily personal lives so it only follows that they would want to use data to make informed decisions at work too. Millennials don’t want to talk to a sales rep or have a phone conversation. They don’t want to dig through cumbersome websites or databases. Nor do they want to guess. They want to make the data-driven decisions their employers demand of them. They want to do their research online on their own, and they want to seamlessly collaborate with others when doing their work. The businesses that enable that data accessibility will be the ones Millennials are happy to work for.
Information is a necessity for Millennials, and they want to be able to access it anywhere and anytime as well. That means organizations should also be considering the mobility aspect, making corporate content and tools accessible via smartphones and tablets.
Millennials and Big Data in the Marketplace
In addition to the ways that Millennials expect to use and benefit from Big Data in the workplace, marketers can use Big Data specifically to improve their marketing to this audience. According to forbes.com, a mere 10 percent increase in data accessibility could mean $65 million in additional net income for a Fortune 1000 company, and retailers could increase operating margins by as much as 60 percent. Those sound like good returns on investments, no matter how big or small a business.
When we can tap into it and actually put it to use, Big Data enables marketers to identify and segment their target audiences with relevant information using the most likely channel, whether that’s email or one of the myriad social networks frequented by Millennials. Millennials have no qualms about sharing information. They freely share personal information because they know they increase the likelihood of getting timely and relevant content as a result. They make it easy for marketers to know them and market to them. That makes targeting your marketing doable—if you can access that data.
Big Data can also help marketers to spot trends. Paying close attention to the data and using Business Intelligence to analyze what you’re seeing can enable you to predict a trend or make a forecast. It might be an increased usage of a social platform, a sudden interest in a cultural movement, or the unexpected popularity of a consumer good. By tapping into, making accessible, and analyzing Big Data, marketers can figuratively gaze into a crystal ball of Millennial trends.
That same analysis can also give you insight into your marketing efforts and provide a feedback loop. You’re not only tapping into the Big Data provided by the Millennials as a way to segment and target them; you’re also tapping into that same data to see what works—or doesn’t work.
Big Data plays a crucial role in B2B marketing as well, because Millennials expect the seamless data accessibility. They want to do research on their own, and they are much farther down the sales pipeline before they are willing to engage with a sales rep than their predecessors of earlier generations.
The adaptation of Big Data might be lagging behind the promises at the corporate level, but the Millennials are ready for Big Data to go mainstream, both in their professional lives and their personal ones. And it could be their growing presence in the workplace and marketplace make that happen.