Baylor Expert: ‘Big Data’ Marketing Success Requires Culture Change, Correct Technology

  • Jeff Tanner
    Jeff Tanner, Ph.D. (Baylor Photography)
Aug. 28, 2014

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Professor’s book reveals how businesses can use ‘big data’ to engage customers quickly and efficiently

WACO, Texas (Aug. 28, 2014) – The amount of data collected in today’s marketplace – about people, their habits, the products they purchase, how, when and where they purchase – is staggering.

This vast amount of information is called “big data.”

The marketers who are able to wade into this deep sea of statistics, read them, interpret them and create strategic opportunities to engage customers are the ones who will profit, said Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., professor of marketing in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

In his new book, Analytics & Dynamic Customer Strategy: Big Profits from Big Data, Tanner used the experiences of major corporations such as Cabela’s, IBM, Circuit City, Target, Cardinal Health and Walmart to demonstrate how some companies benefit by using big data correctly while others are less successful.

“Marketers hunger for solutions, but many simply aren’t ready for big data,” Tanner said. “Without understanding what it means and how different variables relate, you really don’t have much insight.”

Gaining that insight requires a change in culture, Tanner said. Not simply project management.

Corporations that succeed with big data do things like create a grassroots movement to using big data, invest in change management and not just technology, and engage in what Tanner calls “dynamic customer strategy.”

Boiled down, dynamic customer strategy begins with creating a strong conceptual view to understanding the customer and the market, turning that view into strategy and testing and adapting accordingly.

The technology available today gives corporations the edge and the opportunity to respond to big data quickly, Tanner said, but determining which technologies to purchase and how to use them effectively is a challenge.

Often, companies find themselves victims of technology bloat. Multiple departments within a company will invest in varying systems and technologies that collect similar information, but the systems don’t “speak” to each other, Tanner said. And the systems are rarely being used to their full potential.

“It is as if one group buys iPads while another group buys cellphones, only because they wanted calculators,” Tanner illustrated. “I see it all the time. You have multiple iterations of technology that all overlap. You have high-powered technology doing low-powered applications.”

Tanner, who founded the Baylor Business Collaboratory and serves as a marketing and management consultant to national and international companies, said his book provides a roadmap for corporations and marketing officers to make educated decisions and transform the culture of their companies.

“What’s needed is a new set of strategic planning and execution skills to make the most of what big data and marketing technology have to offer,” Tanner said. “You can take the stuff in the first few chapters and put it to work today and generate an immediate return on investment.”


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit and follow on Twitter at

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