“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life” –Baseball great, Mickey Mantle

The quote by Mantle (above) kicks off Brad Pitt’s hit movie Moneyball. In the movie, Billy Beane, a hard scrabble professional baseball front-office manager, faces the herculean business challenge of building a winning baseball team on a shoestring budget.

Better Metrics & Winning Insights

One of the key messages of Moneyball is that, when it comes to placing value on things/people the market often gets it wrong. In the movie, Beane smartly defies conventional baseball wisdom, using entirely new metrics to describe the value of baseball players.  The strategy works and Beane’s Oakland A’s start winning despite their cash-strapped budget.  Baseball has always been a sport that collected vast amounts of data; Beane, however, won on the back of new insights generated through an analytical approach known as Sabremetrics.

Complexity & Distraction

With the rise of social platforms, smartphones, tablets, etc. marketers are living in complex times when it comes to data.  Today, people are generating the same amount of data created from the dawn of civilization to 2003 in just two days!  Global digital information is approaching something crazy–like 1 Zetabyte.  (see Domo–a Business Intelligence start-up–for more on the data explosion we are experiencing)

Big Analysis…

My sense is that analytical capability on business intelligence teams will need to rapidly increase if marketers and business developers want to reap “Billy Beane” like results via big data going forward.  Quantitative and qualitative research should be better synthesized; research departments should look to add social media experts to assess the digital landscape.  Additionally, behavioral psychologists and data mining experts will be needed to synthesize buzz into insight.  Data integration experts will also be needed to stitch together new and traditional measures of market performance (see Greebook’s Industry trends report for more on this)

Business data is expected to increase 10 times in the next four years.  However, if we fail to use the right key metrics and if we’re lazy about generating insights from the data, the wide wonderful world of big data won’t really help the marketing and business development community.