The evolution of data began from a need for marketers to organize customer data to better connecting with them. It started with the zip code in the 60’s to categorize customers by location, and grew to include more transactional data, such as demographics, to profile customers and reach out to them.
This infographic by ALC lays out an interesting chronology of the evolution of data, and its continuing innovation into the modern age. While demographics are interesting, they note that it is “not very predictive”.
Old-school marketing would look for customers that fit a “best customer” profile and market towards them, but it didn’t deliver any deeper analysis. The new innovation is behavioral data, or sociographics, describes how one thinks and feels rather than just where they are from and what category they fall under.
Big data is derived from the massive wave of behavioral data coming from social media, online searches and personal online preferences. In fact, it’s become so large (90% of all data has been created in the last 2 years) at such a fast speed, from a huge variety of sources with questioning validity that it can become incomprehensible. Therefore, the new horizon in big data is figuring out how to organize, refine and distill the data.