So-called “Big Data” isn’t just important; it’s literally BIG. In many cases, it’s too big to be useful to marketers because it cannot be analyzed and acted upon in time on a large scale. At this point in our ongoing quest to gain insight into consumers’ needs and wants, very few data sources haven’t been plumbed.

In the B2B sphere, many marketers are accustomed to targeting based on job titles and demographics, which are important, but don’t tell the whole story about prospective customers and their influencers, especially given how much information is actually available.

Intent data has proven to be the most effective way to target and engage prospects at every stage of the funnel. By monitoring and acting upon their target audiences’ signals in real time, marketers can deliver tailored messages to consumers at the ideal moment—when they are ready to take action. This not only boosts overall results; it also eliminates wasted investment.

Given the highly complex B2B environment, intent data is the best way for B2B marketers to track the consideration process for business decision makers as well as their spheres of influence. So why isn’t intent data the industry standard for B2B marketing?

Unfortunately, B2B intent data has traditionally been stuck within small silos, making it difficult for marketers to gain a complete picture of their audiences or to identify and respond to purchase intent signals in real time. B2B marketers have only had fragmented access to the vast seas of intent data that is actually out there, and as such, have had to sacrifice scale for precision or make do with incomplete information.

The next step in the evolution of B2B data is intent data at scale. Across the industry, scalability has been a key issue of concern as the amount of data available and ways to activate it have compounded rapidly. Automation technology and programmatic platforms have been extremely valuable in enabling marketers to increase the reach of their campaigns without sacrificing timeliness or accuracy of targeting. Marketers are increasingly innovating technological solutions that break down the data silos to deliver a more robust view of audiences.

Scalable intent data can fuel predictive modeling and lead scoring, as well as real time activation of customer intent signals, across consumer bases to deliver vastly improved results. It can empower marketers to create efficiencies and boost engagement throughout the sales funnel, which is vitally important for B2B marketers in particular who, in most cases, aim to create and nurture long-term relationships with customers.

This article first appeared as a guest post on the Oracle blog.