Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his famous poem “The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” has a stanza describing what it is like to be stuck in a salty ocean under a withering sun:
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
Today we live in a data driven, data infested, data diarrhea world where we may plaintively wail:
Data, data every where
So much data that we will sink
Data, Data every where
Pray who will help us think?
It is clear that data itself is being created in such piles that data itself is close to meaningless and information from it is often not too meaningful. What we really need is to be able to make this torrential flow yield a waterfall of actionable insights and maybe even wisdom.
This is unlikely to come from yelling “big data”. ” we need to own the data”, “data is critical” and other data shibboleths that the most data challenged companies and individuals brandish like some magic sword.
A better way is consider the six P’s of Data.
1. Perspective: What perspective do you expect to get from the data ? What connections are you hoping to see ? How do you plan to use this data? Asking the questions before you collect or cull through the data can be very helpful. There are times that the data itself may yield the answers but to do so you will need the next P which is people.
2. People: The shortage in data driven marketing is clearly not the data or the storage capacity or even the computing capacity but of this rare bird called the “data scientist”. John Rauser of Amazon in this fine talk explains how this species combines applied math and engineering with a layer of curiosity, skepticism and good writing skills.
3. Punctuality: The half life of a tweet is probably 8 minutes and of any piece of data probably less. Collecting data is like building a museum to the past in a real time world. What is critical is to have data arrive where you need it, and when you need, both from some past archive and some just in time magic. As the world gets more mobile and place and time based relevance increases in importance so will the punctuality of data.
4. Privacy: As data scientists glean insights such as the likelihood of you being a valuable pet food buyer is if you celebrate/promote your pets birthday on Facebook , and combine it with the amazing technology of just in time, things may get all creepy and icky. And to ensure that this privacy issue will become a critical factor one can look to the Government. Not just the Europeans but of every country whose political structures are being disrupted by technology armed citizens. To make an example of things the Government will come after the big companies and so data policies and transparency will be key going forward to keep things all nice and elegant.
5. Pooling: We are living in a connected world. The Internet is a connection engine. Data API’s and access to databases from all over will be critical to make data driven marketing a reality. Here is a simple example of how Google Trends data and retail location allowed for some superb marketing. Its not the data you have but the data you can access. Access to rather than ownership of data is key and therefore the ability to partner and leverage platforms and portholes into data clusters will be key.
6. Partnering: As large companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Experian, IBM and several others around the world build data stacks, warehouses and tools, the key will be to partner with these platforms that allow companies to process, pool and pull their own information. There are huge economies of scale that come with data collection and processing and therefore it will be key to decide what platforms to partner with rather than build a complete vertical stack.
The age of data driven marketing arrived some time ago. Now companies and people have to catch up with how best to thrive in such an age and collecting data and running algorithms are unlikely to yield much without the six P’s.’‘