Why didn't you teach us this when I was at Baylor? She wasn't one of my students while she was at Baylor, but it wouldn't have mattered. I still felt the heat of her complaint. We were both at a conference to learn the latest in data-driven marketing but truth be told, no university was teaching anything about marketing automation and Big Data at the time—in fact, Big Data, as a term, didn't even exist yet. I couldn't have taught it, simply because there was no real body of knowledge from which to teach, only anecdotes.

So I did what professors do. I began to study and work on the problem. I began to test my ideas with executives and marketing professionals around the world in workshops, seminars, and conferences.

Quickly, I realized that there was a hunger for solutions, but because of the proliferation of marketing channels and the rapid development of Big Data, many marketers simply weren't ready. Some progress in Big Data and marketing technology had to be made first. But my research team and I soldiered on. With the aid of good people like Mary Gros at Teradata, Bruce Culbert at the Pedowitz Group, and Paul Greenberg of the 56 Group, I got opportunities to work alongside people like Phil Kaus at Cabela's, James MacEngvale at Gallery Furniture, and others who were willing to let me test ideas and see what worked. But the response from the marketing world was, well, lukewarm to put it mildly.

Then in 2013, everything changed—and I mean changed quickly. Suddenly, my ...

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