Ever since market research firm IDC reported in 2007 that the data being created on the Internet was so vast it exceeded capacity to store it, attempts to explain what skills Web marketing people should possess also have grown.
A new report from consulting company McKinsey examines the tsunami of Internet data--it calls the phenomenon “Big Data”--and predicts the needs for as many as 190,000 specialists with “deep analytical” skills in the future. The report, prepared by McKinsey’s Global Institute, suggests a new generation of Web marketing analysts will need to be steeped in mathematics and statistics skills.
“We project a need for 1.5 million additional managers and analysts in the United States who can ask the right questions and consume the results of the analysis of ‘big data’ effectively,” the report states, adding that the need will be so acute that “it will be necessary to retrain a significant amount of talent in place; fortunately, this level of training does not require years of dedicated study.”
While the McKinsey report looks into the more distant future, many companies and organizations have already jumped in feet first.
“You need math analytics expertise, but you don’t need to be an Einstein,” said Eric Tsai, an emarketing analyst and Web strategist in Pasadena, Calif. “You can’t neglect traditional marketing skills. At the end of the day, people are human and people core skills still count.”
In an interview with CMO.com, Tsai said a new world is opening up for smaller companies that previously couldn’t afford the research and analytics data that is now readily available on the Internet. Tsai, a marketing blogger at Designdamage.com and an eMarketing Analyst at WebMetro.com, said CMOs for companies big and small need to decide what specific tools they need for their particular business and then target their markets.
“In the past, if you were a small company you couldn’t even talk about this [marketing research assistance],” Tsai said. “The research and analytics are now very inexpensive, and that’s causing the traditional CMO world to change.”
It’s no secret that search marketing has been at the heart of new Web marketing research gains. SEMPO’s recent report on the “State of Search Marketing” predicts that the North American search marketing industry will grow by 16% this year. Last year, the market was $16.6 billion, while the market in 2011 is forecast to hit $19.3 billion.
As expected, a significant percentage (47%) of the 900-plus companies polled for the report in the U.S. said they use Facebook for “pay-per-click” campaigns. “The industry is evolving to encompass much more than the search engines,” said SEMPO president Chris Boggs, in a statement. “The increasing role of social media is reshaping the industry.”
McKinsey researchers tend to take a longer-range view of the Internet data market and examine approaches that range from cluster analysis and crowdsourcing to data mining and neural networks--with many stops in between.
“A wide variety of techniques and technologies has been developed and adapted to aggregate, manipulate, analyze, and visualize ‘big data,’” according to the report. “These techniques and technologies draw from several fields, including statistics, computer science, applied mathematics, and economics. This means that an organization that intends to derive value from big data has to adopt a flexible, multidisciplinary approach.”
How long will companies and organizations have to wait for the “big data” phenomenon to kick in?
Some experts believe if it arrives at all, it won’t be announced in a big thunderclap. Specialists like George Mason University's Tyler Cowen, author of best-seller “The Great Stagnation,” have questioned the use of big investments in data analytics. “The big dividend mostly hasn’t arrived yet,” Cowen said in a recent interview with The New York Times.