Acxiom Aims for 'Big Data'

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 12:00 am  

Finally, once that data's all mined, it has to be extracted.

"If it just sits in the database, it does nothing," Howe said. "That's not useful."

All of this ties into Howe's image of Acxiom as a "data refinery." He sees data as a consumable resource that Acxiom mines, distills, refines and then sends through pipelines to hungry clients.

The nature of data is to keep changing, which Howe noted was a characteristic he wanted in the new hires.

"Increasingly, we need folks who understand how an ad server works, who understand how Facebook works, who understand how search algorithms work," he said. "Increasingly, the data we manage will be a fuel for all those other, different media providers."

This doesn't seem to mean that Acxiom is deserting its original, direct-mail areas. Howe said the new areas would complement the old.

"It's the concept of sequence storytelling," Howe said. "Marketing is storytelling. So by applying the data across all touch points, marketers become storytellers, as opposed to street corner peddlers saying, 'Buy now!'"

The challenge for Acxiom, Howe said, is going to be keeping up with the breakneck speed of the "big data" world.

"I'd liken it to driving on the freeway," he said. "When you're a kid, the first time you take the entrance ramp onto the freeway, it scares you to death. Everyone else is going so fast, how can we possibly maintain control? Yet, after you've had your license for a while, it feels like you're crawling half the time on the freeway. You get used to that speed. As an organization, our next big challenge is going to be how can we increase our speed, yet keep our wheels on the road?"



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