more data more insight?

More Data, More Insight?

by Kim McCarten

BIG data. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Facebook ads. Facebook likes. (I mean, before the latest 'Facebook was sharing your data with more people' scandal).

Whatever the latest build-your-business-quick tool, it all seems so legitimate. And sciency (dare I say, data driven).

But to quote Wanda Sykes, I'm tired of hearing about it. :)

Wanda Sykes from "Monster-In-Law"

"Learn this new project/time management app."
"Implement more tracking on your website."
"More segmentation!"
"More variant landing pages!"
"Get a dashboard for…something!"

dashboards for everyone All the cool kids have dashboards.

There's something frantic about it all. Are good business decisions made in this mindset? Are good investments of time and/or money made in a reactionary mode? And it seems everything is Need! It! Now! (More like Feed! It! Now! whatever the social channel is.)

It seems to me that both extremes, too little of something or too much of something, require real attention and management. If you have, say, too little money, you need to watch your spending, every dollar, like a hawk. And if you have too much of something (say, data), that needs management, too—to prevent a timesuck of hours upon hours, and wasted money/resources from your business.

People don't need news and information 24 hours a day. I think we forget that. Those channels were built to accommodate more advertisers.

And speaking of TV, people don't need 100+ channels either (more and more people are 'cutting the cord' to cable for fewer, more relevant, choices).

Same with data, or social marketing, blog posts, or anything else that's so abundant we drown in it.

What does BIG data give you? Did you get amazing insight that you didn't have with small data?

The bigger the data, the more variables are in play. The more variables in play, the harder (I think) it is to determine what might be driving some trend or other.

With regard to Facebook likes and shares (for those who are still interested in those things): do some random people, who may or may not be prospective clients or customers, clicking and approving and sharing your latest post, are those activities of real value to your business?

People still think there's something 'magical' about data and technology, but these things are just tools, often useful for very specific jobs. Sure, there are some amazing (even life-saving) applications of technology happening—but those develop over time, sometimes even years (!), which slows down the development/implementation process, allowing for more thinking, questioning, and tweaking to be done…hence, a better, more useful, outcome.

Will asking more 'Why' questions uncover some orbit-changing information about your business? Will it yield up information that will set your business apart in an obvious, meaningful way? Will bringing in more data change your position in a saturated market segment?

I have two takes on this:

bull 1) Three-quarters bullshit.
When there's a lot of hype, the coining of a new 'cool' term of some kind, hard-selling something as the new 'silver bullet/answer for everything', it's usually worth about one-quarter of whatever the Hypers say it's worth; so time and money should, therefore, be spent accordingly.

One-quarter usefulness is not nothing, but it means it's three-quarters bullshit—and I think it's important to remember that. (Or maybe you prefer the Pareto Principle: 80% bullshit, 20% usefulness.)

If you keep things experimental and light, in terms of commitment of resources, you might stumble onto something inspiring. Maybe.

But whatever…it's best for you and your team to go through a thinking process, over time, to dig out what value there might be, specifically, for your business or your customers.


toolkit 2) It usually comes back to doing the essentials well.
'They' may come up with a new name or package for an old, existing something, but it seems to me that focusing on the essentials (answering your phone if your customers call, making your website home page clear (and without any popup demands), one-message-per-email focus, follow-up and follow-through in a timely manner, etc.) is what people want, and need, from anyone they do business with (or, if you prefer, 'with whom they do business').

I'd be interested in your thoughts on the usefulness of any latest, greatest New Thing. Has one lived up to the hype for your business?