How 2014 Will Be The Year To Monetize Big Data Big data will soon go from a technology investment to a marketing one. Use it as a tool to boost revenue.

By Lisbeth McNabb

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ask anyone in business if they've heard of big data, and by now, the answer is probably yes.

For the majority of 2013, big data dominated the media discussion as businesses big and small sought to make sense of what exactly it is, and more importantly, what they should do about it. The three biggest challenges associated with big data investments include determining how to get value from data, defining the big data strategy and obtaining the skills and capabilities needed to make sense of it in a meaningful way.

Related: Why Spending on Big Data Isn't a Waste (Infographic)

It's my view that we are on the cusp of the second wave of the big data revolution. If the first chapter was about investing in the technology to harness the insight and analysis from data, the second is about using big data to quickly get to revenue.

So as we get ready to ring in the New Year, here is what you need to know about big data for 2014.

How fast big data will generate revenue is the new metric. One of the biggest challenges with big data investments is pinpointing exactly how business leaders should be measuring return on investment, and more importantly, over what period of time.

While a recent survey by IDG Research and Kapow Software shows the vast majority of business leaders think big data will help make more informed business decisions, they also identify the time and cost associated with seeing ROI, noting that it's difficult to extract insight from big data investments without hiring costly consultants.

This is precisely why in 2014, business leaders should begin to deploy big data-enabled solutions instead of big data as a solution. This holiday season our clients at DigiWorksCorp are seeing strong results moving one-time purchasers to a second purchase via effective targeting, increasing ROI by over 120 percent. In cutting out the need for costly technology investments and data scientists, the time to revenue will be much quicker.

Related: Why Big Data Is Your Key to Beefing Up Customer Engagement

Chief marketing officers will be calling the shots. If in 2013, big data was thought of as a technology investment, in 2014, it will become a marketing investment, particularly when it comes to retail brands.

Consumers are more likely to buy when offers are targeted directly to them. For example, 35 percent of what consumers purchase on Amazon and 75 percent of what they watch on Netflix come from product recommendations based on algorithms focused on transaction data and digital media trends.

CMOs are embracing the power of predictive analytics, with one recent study of 1,700 CMOs indicating they believe their role is being transformed in part by big data. That said, less than half of CMOs feel prepared for this shift. Based upon what we've seen with our clients, the most effective integration of big data and marketing happens when CMOs, chief technology officers and chief information officers drive the results together. When these three leaders harness their teams' talents side by side, they propel innovation at a faster rate and scale through the collaboration.

Every business should be utilizing big data. As we continue to see the emergence of big data-enabled solutions, every single business should leverage the power of data analytics and predictive analysis. Many have been doing so for years, whether by monitoring Google analytics or social activity. The remarkable change is that companies of all sizes now have access to revenue-driving solutions, not just the insight. From the growth-stage startups to the largest of retailers, we should expect 2014 to be the year that business leaders across the board are using big data to drive results.

Related: Startups Mine 'Big Data' Too

Wavy Line

Lisbeth McNabb is the CEO of DigiWorksCorp, which translates data insight and analysis directly into brand revenue and monetization by delivering the right person the right offer at the right time. She was the CFO and chief revenue officer of and the founder of w2wLink. She is a director on two public company boards, Tandy Brands Accessories and Nexstar Broadcasting, and was recently named to the Agenda list of top 50 digital board directors.

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