One part of ‘Big’ in Big Data refers to the size of the opportunity: it represents a new frontier for accelerated progress that will leave few areas of human endeavor untouched.
The other part of ‘Big’ is the challenge. Beyond the digital dexterity required to conquer unprecedented data complexity through modeling and algorithms there’s a harder, human hurdle that must be surmounted for the promise of Big Data to be realized: the physiological limits of a human’s visual system to process input, whether data or information. Visual analysis of data still dominates the business and scientific fields but we can’t handle the visual complexity from Big Data. The emergence of infographics and performance dashboards do little to overcome the challenge.
‘Listen to the data’ may be a familiar refrain in business – an appeal to be guided by numbers not subjective whim – but an emerging field of scientific inquiry suggests taking this advice literally can generate breakthroughs not possible through a sight-based approach. Sonification is the field of turning data into sound. Multidimensional in nature, hearing presents a different set of strengths from that of vision: the fidelity of time sensitivity is 100 times greater for hearing than for sight.
This creates huge potential for marketing whose transformative impact has yet to be explored. Imagine the application of sonification to cross-channel customer journey assessment. The ability to convert into sound and review customer-set level interaction data across touchpoints and time can help identify meaningful moments along with their contextual influencers, from changes in auditory patters.