In their rush to jump on the big data bandwagon, many organizations have lost sight of a much simpler yet effective source of customer insight: “small data.”

Executive Summary

Small data may be less glamorous than its more buzz-worthy big data counterpart, but it's no less important, says Watermark Consulting's Jon Picoult. Better understanding your customers simply requires a watchful eye, an attentive ear and the discipline to act on whatever insights you uncover.

Big data is about synthesizing, mining and analyzing mounds of seemingly unrelated information to derive actionable insights about your customer. It’s a complex science, but one that can be leveraged to understand and engage customers in new, surprising and sometimes even creepy ways. (Consider, for example, the well-documented case where retailer Target figured out that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father even knew—merely by analyzing her purchase history data. See related article, “The Challenges Around Big Data and the Lessons to Be Learned.”)

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