Inman's Real Estate Connect NYC 2015 wrapped up last Friday with the most unlikely of comparisons. During the "How to Use Big Data to Build Your Business" segment with Inman's Morgan Brown, SmartZip CEO Avi Gupta explained that big data is more than just a buzz word. Some people say it's the future of marketing, sales and product development.
To understand big data, we must first talk about small data. Small data is comprised of the signals we can easily see in our everyday lives. If a family welcomes a new baby, they may need a larger home. If a listing expires, the homeowners likely need a new agent. Small data can be great for landing one or two deals, but the majority of sellers have more complex reasons for listing. Big data, by contrast, finds common patterns of these complexities and offers insights that can be harder to spot by the naked eye.
Here are some examples of how big data can play out in the real world:
A staunch conservative male may say that he would never date a liberal. But if Tinder matches him with a woman who shares mutual friends and common interests, he may not realize until the third date that she's on the opposite side of the political spectrum. And by then, perhaps it won't matter as much to him.
Similarly, a parent might buy her 11-year old daughter the new One Direction album after remembering that she wanted their poster a few months back. Pandora, on the other hand, knows from her current listening habits that the tween has moved on from One Direction. She's into the complex musical stylings of Ed Sheeran these days—she hasn't given 1D a "thumbs up" in nearly a month and a half.
Human beings are fickle, and they are often disingenuous without meaning to be. The man on Tinder may not realize he's willing to set politics aside for the right partner. The tween doesn't know her mom can't tell the difference between Ed Sheeran and One Direction on their drive to school each morning. An empty nester couple may be so preoccupied with their youngest kid's move to college that they don't see until Labor Day that they've reached positive equity, hate their commute and need only one guest bedroom now.
Human beings may have changing tastes, but they often don't know when the changes occur. Big data identifies not only the common signals of certain groups, but also their future intent. That's why, with the right technology backing you, you can predict everything from the best romantic partner to the most likely home seller on the block.