MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Making Data Matter

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 06, 2015


It really is the overarching conversation across all business sectors. Data. It's always been there, but we seem to have fallen in love with data all over again. We've been using it since we were in elementary school. We've collected it at every point in our life. We absorbed data about which friend liked the same sports team or what color shirt they wore or what time they ate dinner. We align ourselves with those of similar interests and seek out those with opposing opinions, if only to debate or educate.

Completion of our education did not stop the data deluge, it only changed its form. In fact, some of use decided to become analysts or scientists that steeped themselves in using data in new and fascinating ways. We are no longer memorizing multiplication tables or historic dates, nor are we organizing arguments to support theses. Now we are absorbing data about our industry and its people, processes, products, technologies, tools and communication methods. We manage a LOT of it instinctively. However, the rise of BIG data reinforces the relevance of data and the technology industry for all sectors, whether they are financial services, healthcare, consumer products, hospitality, travel, manufacturing, environmental - ok, you get it. Big data is applicable and pertinent for all industries.

But, how do we make all that data matter? I collect data points every day as I work with clients to develop strategies and content that reflects their value to their target customers. This means understanding their customers' needs, communicating in a manner that resonates with the customer, while still reflecting the key attributes of my client's technology. It's not always easy finding and collecting the right data. All that data doesn't always makes sense. It can be confusing.

This is why we are now seeing the focus grow beyond data collection and analytics. We're going to learn a lot about predictive and prescriptive analytics in the coming months. These are the magic 8 balls of the big data industry, thus far. They are fortune telling at their current best. If we can anticipate the needs and behavior of our customers, we can improve how we address and fulfill them. We can adapt business processes, modify go-to-market models, refine marketing and ultimately, improve revenue and profit margins.

That's the holy grail - make the data matter. But it's just not that easy. I have technology clients managing data, analyzing data, manipulating data and making recommendations borne from data. In the media sector, Nielsen reports data about what we watch. Ooyala shares data about how we watch. Cisco reports about how many bits move across networks. Bay area start-up Guavas provides data on the health of those networks. These are all indicators that should be acted upon. We are all awash in data and I, for one, am eager to see how we make this data really matter for business customers and consumers.

What's your perspective?