Big data was one of the big things in 2013. This will probably be repeated this year, but the core focus will be on personalisation, according to experts in marketing, technology and research, said Johann Evans, Chief Technology Officer at unified data management company, Cherry Olive.

“Market analysts frequently base some of their predictions on the viewpoints of leading players in the various markets, and this generally means listening to what some of the billionaires – and company leaders – are saying. They are in the positions they occupy due to their particular brand of excellence – and they are leading from the castle parapets.

“While it is now generally accepted that big data is here – and that it will grow – it does, nonetheless – bring with it some serious headaches for companies.”

In a recent article in Huffington, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, says: “The biggest disruptor that we’re sure about is the arrival of big data and machine intelligence everywhere. The ability to find people, to talk specifically to them, to judge them, to rank what they’re doing, to decide what to do with your products… (it) changes every business globally.”

Says Evans: “In the good old days the marketing report used to be the holy grail of the company. But things have changed dramatically. The jewels obtained in the traditional marketing reports – and other reports – are no longer enough. Companies need more…and the next challenge is to turn big data into smart data. This, fundamentally, is the big conundrum facing corporates around the globe.

“The sobering thought, however, is that many are yet to grasp the concept of big data itself.”

Speaking to Hurlington, Mellisa Parrish, principal analyst at Forrester, says: “Marketers will start contextualising their data, drawing even richer insights, and using those insights to create not just more relevant, but personalised campaigns and experiences. In short, 2014 will be the year that marketers begin to turn big data into smart data.”

Tamara Gruzbarg, senior director of Analytics and Research, Gilt Groupe, says, ”True personalisation of customer experience will stop being reserved for a select few and will need to become an operational principle for any marketer who wants to remain relevant in an increasingly fragmented and regulated environment.”

“One thing is a given is that big data is not just a fad. Like new technology trends such as cloud computing it is going to have its place in the world – and in the technology arena. It is also surely going to have a very real impact on companies – and the question is: just how are companies going to manage zettabytes of data, and make sense of it?

“Big data gives us a look at the virtually limitless nature of computing resources at the world’s disposal. Where 30 years ago an 8-bit computer with 256Kb of RAM (Random Access Memory) was about as good as it got, now we have smartphones that are like mini computers – and we are starting to regard terabytes like KBs.

“The huge repositories of information around the globe, which get bigger every day – are only going to grow. And, when talking about big data one can be sure of one thing – that it won’t be long before companies like Google and Amazon enter the fray. “They haven’t as yet. But these two companies represent two of the biggest data stores in the world –data stores that are measured in exabytes and petabytes.

“When these two companies, alone, start embracing big data we are going to see a massive increase in data out there.”

Continuing, Evans said that Amazon and Google measure their files on individuals and companies in the multiple millions. “But, “he added, “how do they manage this data? Big databases help. But it goes beyond this. At the end of the day it is really all about the harnessing of a myriad layers of software and hardware, from multiple sources and locations – finally coming down to finding the right data.

“This data has to be correctly managed and arranged. It has to be clean, accurate and appropriate – and come from a mixture of sources, including external sources.

“The bottom-line is that if the data is clean, accurate and appropriate, then the correct use of the data will put the organisation in question in a very powerful position. Such a company would certainly have a massive edge in the marketplace.”