Transaction volume in multifamily is simply too slow for leveraging the buzz of Big Data, and so AIM 2014: Conspire dove into a simpler intelligence behind business intelligence. On the Little Data: Simple KPIs to follow panel, D2 Demand Solutions founder Donald Davidoff, Carmel Partners Director of Revenue management Jessica Mills and UDR chief information officer Scott Wesson made the case instead for little data, based on academic research recently profiled in the Harvard Business Journal.
“There there is so much buzz about big data, and one of the ways we know we don’t have big data is to compare it against other industries,” says Wesson. “When you go into a Nordstrom, they are tracking everywhere you go. Not to make you paranoid, but they have facial recognition software, they know your gender, your age, your purchasing history, and they track the path that you take through the store.”
Characterizing multifamily in terms of gigabytes and not terabytes, the panel stressed that apartment marketers can still make strategic and tactical improvements in marketing by tracking and paying attention to simpler, non-quant data. “We’re really using medium data,” Mills says. “I came from the airline industry and that kind of transaction density is just not there in multifamily as our sales cycle is much longer. But there are big wins to be had with what we already have. You can get very good at tracking simple numbers, and there is a lot of opportunity where we are right now before we move on to something as sophisticated as facial recognition.”
Davidoff agreed, and stressed that apartment marketers need not be perennially caught up in the business intelligence zeitgeist. “As marketers, and in multifamily, you don’t need to master big data,” Davidoff says. “If you can just master the little data, that’s good enough.”