Do We Have Too Much Data and Not Enough Understanding?

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You always hear the same message:

There is never enough time in business

Data on the other hand piles up relentlessly; as if there are separate rules for both!

You might have read the MarTechNews article, Debra Bass, President of JNJ, who suggested that marketers are suffering from what she called “InfoObesity”

Basically, we are gorging on an in consumable amount of numbers that is not just unwieldy but can become dysfunctional.

Whether you are running your own business, or you work within a research and Insight team, I am sure you are feeling the same way.

There is a massive opportunity with a combination of big data and artificial intelligence, however, if the industry is to progress, we need more than just statistics.

We need understanding. One of the problems with a lack of understanding is data saturation amongst organisations.

We don’t just need understanding; we need consumers to trust how we use their information as well. Without consumers trusting companies use of their data, why should they buy from us?

What is data saturation?

Data saturation is everywhere we go. Our ability to collect information hasn’t been matched by our ability to support, filter and manage information from various sources, whether that is CRM, or research specific like surveys and focus group stats.

Actually, let me give you an example, think about the first problem that people complain about when a city goes through a period of growth which normally means more flats, houses and businesses – the roads are too crowded and there are too many people around!

The infrastructure can’t keep up. Market research is actually facing the exact same problem. We have too much data with no structure in place to manage the information and not enough application.

How can you become more strategic when it comes to data collection?

1) Start with the business objective

You have to start with your goals.

  • Why are you even starting to use statistics to answer the key business problems?
  • What are you trying to address?
  • Do you have historical information that could help?
  • What are the key questions you need to ask and answer?

 2) Now think about how you are going to gain the data to answer your key questions

This will focus your data collection efforts, so you don’t get blinded. Rather than collecting information and statistics for the sake of it, you need to identify why you need numbers and then go get it.

Let me give you an example, think back when you were told to read and read and read even more books, line by line. And then later you would find out what you remembered and what you didn’t. I am suggesting you do the complete opposite.

You need to be targeted and strategic in your approach to identify what information you need.

3) Ask for help!

There is no harm is asking for help whether that is from a different internal department, or external expertise who hasn’t seen or worked at your company before. A fresh pair of eyes on a developing problem.

4) Map your data warehouse!

You may not have a particular data warehouse tool but its really important that you even use a note pad to actually create a complete view of the stats that you have in house. Then you can identify what numbers exists in the company, what information doesn’t and then where you can actually access any gaps that might be apparent.

5) Use the correct tools to get the outcomes you would like!

Twitter data is different from Google Analytics, so don’t try and use Twitter to answer an unrelated question. Analysing your social media information is different from understanding website traffic.

Do we have too much data and not enough understanding?

With the use of artificial intelligence and complex analytics, too much evidence is never enough. There is no era of big data, because it has been around for years. We are literally swimming in a sea of stats and numbers from website interactions, social media mentions, demographic information, location specific information and so much more. When it comes to actually understanding customer trends and answering real life business questions, data is worth its weight in gold.

To cure ‘InfoObesity’, you just need to take care of it, and create a game plan!

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  1. Good article!

    Important quote and worthy of a follow-up(s): ‘We don’t just need understanding; we need consumers to trust how we use their information as well. Without consumers trusting companies use of their data, why should they buy from us?’ Complex issue by itself, there.

    Another idea for follow: tips for managing / normalizing different data sources. Also complex issue.

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