How to Win the Data Race

There’s no shortage of data today because there’s no shortage of content.

In fact, did you know that in 48 hours now we create more content than what was created from the beginning of time until 2003?! (You can thank Google’s Eric Schmidt for that impressive statistic).

The more content we create online, the more consumers interact and engage with our websites, social media pages and communities, the more potential information we have about what our consumers are looking for – but what are we doing with all this data?


The truth is, Big Data is a hot topic – but it’s not useful or helpful for marketers if we can’t turn the data into useful analytics – insightful information on what our consumers are doing and how we can do a better job delivering them what they’re looking for.

We shouldn’t be trying to necessarily “win” the data race because entities like Facebook, Google and Amazon will always know more about our consumers than we ever could. So rather than look at it as a Big Data race we should all start training for, it’s time to determine how we can use the data we do have to inform our business practices and make more intelligent business decisions.

Like all the good things in life, it’s easier said than done.


Quality, not quantity

Everyone from CMOs to CEOs want data. Show me the numbers, your boss might say. Why are you running that campaign if campaign X might drive better results? The executives feel comfort in the numbers we show them, the confidence that their choices are the right ones. But endless amounts of data won’t raise your profits, increase your revenue, or make you a better businessperson.

It’s about the quality of the data, not the quantity. Before we chase more data and dig up more reports to leave a towering stack on our boss’ desk, it’s time to ask:

  1. Which type of data do you need to gain useful insights about your customers?
  2. What will you do with this data once you get it? (this simple yet extremely important question has been asked many times by one of my former colleagues – digital analyst @Ehren Cheung. Thanks for the insight, Ehren)

Rather than trying to uncover as much data as you can, you need to uncover the right data, for the right purpose because not all data is business-critical.

It’s time to invest

So how do you unleash the data hidden in your web pages and customer reports and most importantly, determine which data is the most useful for your business decisions? Investing in the right resources and personnel is the next step and will help you identify which data is valuable and which can be left in an unnamed Excel report.

Once you do decide to invest, finding the data gleaner will not be an easy process – in the U.S. alone, there’s a huge demand for skilled analysts who can decipher your data and not enough supply – an estimated 1.5 million gap.

Next steps

Before you ask your HR department to start finding the right person for the role, there are a few things you can do internally to get started.

First, you need to identify the objectives and goals that matter most to your business – what are you trying to achieve (and therefore, what are you trying to know)?

Second, identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you’ll use to measure the success of your initiatives – and document them.

Only then should you invest in Big Data analyzers who can provide greater insight into who your consumers are and what they’re doing.

So rather than focus all our attention on uncovering the most data, we need to instead invest in the data we have and the knowledge hidden in it. Focus on the quality, not the quantity and you’ll get genuine insights that can help move your business forward.