Clive Humby: ‘Big data isn’t scary’

Too many companies are implementing ‘big data’ in the entirely the wrong way, says DunnHumby co-founder and Clubcard guru Clive Humby, although he maintains it is nothing to be scared about.
The rise of big data has been one of the major issues facing firms over the past few years, as companies gather more and more customer interactions via digital media.
Yet Humby, who was speaking to the Guardian Media Network, said firms must start from the viewpoint of how the data will benefit the customer; not how it will benefit the business.
He said: “The real challenge is creating value for the customer. It’s very easy with a loyalty card. Consumers use the card; then get a reward for using it, so it’s simple to incentivise. But they could find it alarming if they start getting offers they haven’t opted into.
“Big data is not scary if it’s done well – the key is relevance and consent. If consumers can see the benefit of handing over their data, they are much more likely to welcome it.”
Claiming that mass marketing is dead, Humby added: “Exploit the data and you run high risks, but if you treat everyone the same that won’t work either.”
Too few organisations still get the data basics right, he claimed, and big data was certainly not for everyone. He cited Harley-Davidson as an example. “There are probably only three or four types of Harley rider. Is it really worth doing if you can’t make the customer a better customer?”

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