Making Big Data Smart: A 360-Degree Online View of a Business

puzzle-cubeIt’s no secret that companies can use the wealth of data that they generate in the course of doing business to gain valuable insights about customer preferences. But the challenges associated with big data, such as disparate data streams and incomplete data sets, can be real barriers to organizing and extracting the intelligence needed to drive results for local businesses.

The main challenge is the lack of a common, consistent, and pervasive online business language among local search platforms. From ratings and reviews to photos, recent deals and check-ins, local business content is abundant and continuing to grow as new social and mobile apps are launched.

This abundance has not, however, produced standardized mechanisms to facilitate the exchange of rich descriptive information from one local search platform to the next.

Why Has the Uniform Analysis of Local Business Data Been Unsuccessful?

Online business identities – specifically name, address and phone number (NAP) details – are often inconsistently formatted across local search platforms and local data sets, making it difficult to capture the rich, robust online business information available from a variety of sources.

For instance, Yahoo pulls content from various vertical and niche sites. Yahoo and each of these sites take different approaches to aggregating and organizing local business data. Given this, Yahoo has to reformat each site’s content to match their data and present it to users.

For big data to make an impact, search, social and mobile sites need to speak a common language about businesses so that they can transfer data back and forth regardless of the platform type.

How Can This be Accomplished?

A universal repository of online business identities following a standardized set of guidelines is necessary to organize and normalize inadequacies of content origination.

If guidelines are in place at the beginning of the content collection stream, data generated and captured about a local business can be used and analyzed, benefiting business owners, consumers and the local search ecosystem at large.

In addition to giving consumers the precise information they are seeking – either proactively or via remarketing efforts – local search platforms can ultimately create better search experiences for users and monetization for ads.

When search engines crawl the search landscape about a particular topic, or in this case a business, the content aggregated would present a holistic, 360-degree view of a business and data would be effectively shared from one search platform to the next. Additionally, a business would be able to better analyze how customers view them on social media channels and rating and review sites.

A search platform's ability to bring in all disparate points of information about a business is necessary for big data to take the local search industry to the next level. Today’s lack of online business identity consistency via a universal repository is making it difficult for local search players to reap the rewards of big data. If a common language can be agreed upon in the industry, the monetary value could be tremendous.

About the author

Jeff Beard is General Manager & Senior Vice President of Localeze, a Neustar service. A listings management veteran, Jeff is responsible for leading Localeze's long-term strategic vision while driving growth, new-product and business development. In 2005, Jeff led an initiative focused on building information products targeted at the local search industry. From this initiative, Localeze was created. Localeze has quickly become the largest business listings identity manager for local search.

Prior to Localeze, Jeff served as vice president of corporate development at TARGUSinfo, where he led the company through its acquisition of Amacai, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of TARGUSinfo. Jeff was a key player in Amacai's 2001 launch and was primarily responsible for the operation and management of all business units. Prior to joining TARGUSinfo, Jeff spent 13 years at Acxiom Corporation, where he held a variety of sales, sales leadership and product positions.