Small Data: a Brief History and a New Design Philosophy
Allen Bonde, SVP Marketing (@abonde)
1. Three views of SMALL DATA...and a brief history
2. Data and the Customer Journey
3. A new DESIGN Philosophy
4. Use Case - new Placester mobile app
“The trail of digital data breadcrumbs
as we go about our days”
– Deborah Estrin
“The amount of data you can conveniently
store and process on a single machine,
and in particular a high-end laptop”
– Rufus Pollock
The Small Data
Lab at Cornell
“Seemingly insignificant behavioral
observations containing very
specific attributes pointing towards
an unmet customer need”
– Martin Lindstrom
Open Source Tools
Big Data Defined
Era of Wearables Begins
A brief history...and
“Small Data” Defined
“Small data connects people with
timely, meaningful insights (derived
from big data and/or “local”
sources), organized and packaged
– often visually – to be accessible,
understandable, and actionable for
– Digital Clarity Group
Forbes op-ed on small data + IoT
NYT feature on Drowning in
World Economic Forum feature
Hortonworks buys Onyara
Medium feature on Tinder-like apps
AdAge op-ed on personalized apps
Nature feature on small data and “long
tail” of neuroscience
Forbes op-ed on omni-channel and 1:1
book on Small Data
ANSWERS Not Data
“To serve the broadest set of business objectives
and users, the goal isn’t just to accumulate more
data assets…it’s about collecting what data is
already available, discovering its meaning (in
context) and delivering the right data in the right
format to the broadest set of users”
How data impacts the customer journey
demand smarter apps
Use data to
drive behaviorTailor offers and
What do I
How can we educate our audience with the right
data? Turn it into visual stories, and leverage
what we know from transactional small data
(purchase history, what’s in stock) to tailor
campaigns and offers.
How can we connect buyers with the
brand and brand advocates? Harvest
social small data like gestures, reviews
and testimonials (UGC), creating
insights that amplify our message and
Motivate me How can we drive action? The right data in the form of
recommendations or alerts (based on triggers or other
environmental small data) can boost conversions.
Devices that CREATE + Consume Data
The Internet of Things and Wearables offer to shift
the focus of analytics further to embedded use
cases and small data, and create more devices
that both create and consume local information!
Small data thinking should inform our design
simple “visual, intuitive, single-purpose-ish”
smart “predictive, proactive, accurate”
responsive “portable, localized…wearable?”
social “social inputs, shareable”
Principle #1: Make it simple
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Simple means being visual, intuitive,
and single-purpose as possible.
Presenting a featured recommendation
at just the right point in the buying cycle,
or delivering a proactive text alert to
notify customers that their order is
ready. Driven by data, but presented as
pictures, charts or answers.
Principle #2: Make it smart
Does this approach deliver useful or
unique insights? Small data-powered
apps should be the “go-to” source. Tell
customers just what they need to know
and in the fewest steps. Smart apps
use structured and unstructured data,
and insights from online and offline
channels. And make sure results are
trusted and repeatable.
Principle #3: Be responsive
Deliver insights where customers are
and where employees want to work.
Responsive means being portable,
localized, and mobile ready. As the form
factor of computing evolves and
innovations such as next-gen wearable
devices and IoT go mainstream, small
data applications will be the first killer
apps – outside and inside
Principle #4: Be social
Small data is social by nature – it’s
about us. Tools for creating small data
apps and campaigns need to foster
sharing. They need to be “in the
language” of relevant social networks
and wired up for collecting feedback.
Embedding social sharing immediately
helps to amplify an audience and
create new inputs for further analysis.
Leads and Tasks
Just the right CRM features
that agents and brokers need
automation and collaboration
Get visibility into what’s going
on in my business (deals)
One Communication Inbox
communication with the right people
at the right moment
Answer questions and see activity,
take notes, and set reminders
Push notifications and alerts to drive
Next best action
which lead to call or email next?
which properties may be a new
seller lead opportunity?
which steps need attention to
close my next deal?
Search leads and property
listings, get details and trends
Leverage location data and
Smart buyer tools to calculate
affordability + payments
Design to the TASK...
Establish end goal for your small data – are you
looking to understand or engage users?
Examine influence points in journey – are you
looking to inform, connect, or motivate?
Good information design matters!
...and deliver an EXPERIENCE with data!
Map the “Ins” and Outs” – what are key
breadcrumbs + how will you apply to unmet needs?
Select the type(s) of data-driven output that will
drive the desired behavior - e.g. alert, chart,
dashboard, map, task list, recommendation etc.
Keep it simple!
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or @abonde