by Katherine N. Lemon, PhD

Companies around the world are struggling with a vast amount of data, and can’t make sense of it all. “Big Data” has the promise of providing firms with significant new information about their markets, their products, their brands, and their customers – but currently, there’s often a great divide between big data and truly usable insights that create value for the firm and the customer.

This book addresses this huge need. When I had the opportunity to read Creating Value with Big Data Analytics: Making Smart Marketing Decisions, my first reaction was: Thank goodness! Where has this book been all my life? Finally, there’s a book that provides a clear, detailed, and usable roadmap for big data analytics.  I know that’s hard to believe, but read on.

As I write this, Facebook has reached a new milestone of 1 billion users in a single day. Just think of the big data analytics opportunities from just that one day. Verhoef, Kooge and Walk have developed a theoretically sound and highly practical framework. Their Value Creation Model just makes sense; it makes the complex simple. First, they clearly identify the goal of any analytic “job to be done”: focusing on either (a) creating and measuring value to the customer, or (b) creating and measuring value to the firm. They further break these two goals down into three levels: market level, brand level and customer level. This clear delineation of six key analytic areas of focus, followed by practical, “how-to” guides for using and analyzing big data to answer questions in each of these key areas, is a highly executable approach, well grounded in rigorous scientific research.

They do a great job of achieving three key objectives:

1. Teaching us all how “big data” provides new opportunities to create value for the customer (so customers like our products and services better), and for the firm (so we make more profit), while also helping us to be mindful of key security and privacy issues. This framework makes the book work.

2. Teaching us specific analytic approaches that truly fit identifiable marketing questions and situations, and, most importantly, how to gain insights that lead to value creation opportunities – new growth opportunities, new customers, or growth from existing customers. This is the missing piece that this book does so well. One key advantage of this book is that it offers depth in key analytic approaches for all areas of marketing, including analytic classics, new big data techniques, story-telling and visualization. 

3. Teaching us how to develop a big data analytics capability focused on value creation – that delivers growth and positive ROI. By taking us through the entire process from getting the data, to integrating the data, to analysis, to insight, to value, to the role of the organization – the roadmap is complete, and ready for anyone to begin.

Who should read this book? Anyone who needs to understand customers, products, brands, markets or firms. CMO’s and marketing executives should read this book – it provides great insights into how you can develop a successful big data analytics capability, and how to interpret insights from big data to fuel growth. Those individuals charged with Insights within the organization should read this book: one of the key learnings from Verhoef, Kooge and Walk’s approach is that you’ll know what analysis to do when, for what purpose, and with what data. That’s huge! Data scientists should read this book – not because you need to learn the analysis techniques described here (you may be aware of many of them), but because it will strengthen your ability to gain insights on marketing problems and help you communicate your ideas and insights to the rest of the organization. Even professors and students of analytics should read this book. It provides a rigorous approach to frame your thinking and build your analytic skills. And finally, if your head is swimming and you’re overwhelmed with the opportunities and complexities of the “firehose” of big data, this book is for you.  

I believe it’s the Rosetta stone we’ve all been looking for – finally answering critical questions: How do we create insights from big data for marketing? How do we create value from big data? How do we solve problems with big data? And how do we get a positive ROI on our investment in big data analytics? Whether you are just starting on your journey in big data analytics, or well on your way, you will learn a ton from this book.

The authors don’t shy away from all the complexities and the messiness of big data and analytics. Rather, they make the complex manageable and understandable. They explain difficult analytic approaches clearly and show you when –and why – to use what technique. They provide a rare combination of science and practicality. Examples, cases and practical guidelines are clear, detailed and readable; taking you to that next step of getting to the business of analyzing your own big data to create value for your customers and your firm.

What more can I say? Creating Value from Big Data Analytics: Making Smart Marketing Decisions offers in-depth, rigorous and practical knowledge on how to execute a successful big data analytics strategy that actually creates value. This is the first book that puts it all together. Thanks so much to Peter, Edwin and Natasha for writing the book that we all really needed.

Katherine N. Lemon, PhD

Accenture Professor of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Executive Director, Marketing Science Institute