Are you tired of talking about Big Data yet? I suspect we all are, but it can’t be helped. We have virtual silos full of data, and until we get better at milling this glut of information down into tiny, relevant grains of truth, it won’t go away. The future of our business relies on making connections that are meaningful, memorable and important.

Big Data

We are in the middle of a market disruption that has already been dubbed “The 4th Industrial Revolution.” It’s an era being driven by data and what it can tell us about how we go to business. In our industry, we need to better analyze and understand the data in order to design curated experiences that speak to individuals—not the masses.

It’s a daunting challenge, but frankly, it’s not the technology that worries me. We have apps that can slice and dice the data, and we learn more every day. We’ve gotten pretty good at speaking to communities of like-minded groups. We can make generalizations about Pet Owners and Organic Tea Drinkers and Readers of Fiction. But this is still squishy; it’s not a truly personal engagement.

I suspect that we sometimes get the formula backwards. After all, do we really care what Big Data can tell us? A better approach, I believe, is to start with the user’s experience at specific points of engagement, and think about how to make that more personally relevant. Once we know what we’re looking for, we can sort the data accordingly. With predictive customization, we can help people connect in a personal way.

A writer joked once that all the words of his story were already in the dictionary; he just had to get rid of the ones he didn’t need. We are all in the business of curating stories for the people who engage with our shows, conferences, expos and related websites. We have a lot of information about these people; now we need the imagination to find the parts that are relevant… and make it personal.