Just How BIG is Your Data?

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

If you haven’t heard, your data now needs to be big to make it worth your time and investment.

To be honest, I have to admit when I first overheard someone mentioning the term at a recent post-conference cocktail party (you know the kind—those parties where we get to sound smart and pass on half truths about our industry) — I thought they were speaking about a new rap artist named BIG Data—I mean why would we embrace a phrase like ‘big data’ when many struggle to make sense out of ‘little data’?

When approached by Jeremy at DBW to begin blogging for DBW on data issues in the publishing industry, I must admit I agreed with a bit of trepidation. You see, after carrying the data torch in this industry for nearly 15 years, there are days I feel a bit jaded about how we use and treat data. What could I say that might inspire readers to do something new or unique with their data? And then along comes ‘BIG data’ to make things even more complicated! Being the type of person that loves a challenge and frankly has a hard time saying ‘no,’ I accepted.

So, back to my first question: How BIG is your data?

If you assumed that you really don’t know, you are correct. In this big data world we are living in, we really don’t know what are the sizes and limits to our data. In fact, it’s really the wrong question to ask. The better question is, what are you doing with the data you have today? How are you working to integrate your multiple sources of data? What are you doing to make them visual and digestible to a larger audience within your company?

As I ponder the new frontier of ‘BIG data,’ I am greatly intrigued by the concepts. For me, the coolest concept around this is finding ways to smash it up into one data set that defines the ultimate narrative or portrait of today’s consumer. Is it possible to know for instance, that the YA fiction market is actually being driven by 34-45 year old women who are buying on impulse at Barnes & Noble and that their average time to complete on their Nook is 4 to 5 days?

Being able to string together consumer data / sales analytics / e-reader usage / and qualitative marketing is the big play in BIG data. And then, if I know this, the big thing is how do I translate this information into action and raise the bottom line (and this is where our industry greatly fails)?

So let me end this post by starting the next in a five part blog series of what I believe are the 5 essentials to any organization in managing your ‘BIG Data.’

5 Thoughts for using your Big Data

1 – Start Small

2 – Stay consistent

3 – Consider multiple sources

4 – Look at data from multiple perspectives

5 – Keep the end in mind

Open Book Image via Shutterstock.

Expert Publishing Blog
Kelly Gallagher

About Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher is Vice President, Bowker Market Research, a recognized leader in plotting trends that impact organizations serving book consumers. His role includes management of business intelligence services, sales analysis tools and commerce solutions, including the Bowker consumer research panel, reaching more than 100,000 book consumers globally. With the dramatic shifts in publishing today as consumers move to electronic formats, he is leading teams of researchers to monitor and analyze market movement. Mr. Gallagher is also an active writer, speaker, and thought leader on market trends and their impact to the publishing industry.


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