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Sep 27

With All Due Respect, It Isn’t Data, Data, Data.

guy_blackboardThis may seem a strange second post for a company that seeks to help its customers envision and execute data-driven, customer-centric marketing. But it is true, it isn’t data, data, data any more than it is social, social, social or content, content, content. Data is a piece of the future, granted an important piece, but still a piece. Big or little, data is only as powerful and meaningful as the organization chooses to make it. Data does not answer any questions, inspire any innovation, or inform engaging customer experiences. People do.

Some headlines scream “you’ve missed the big data train, you’re behind” while others are screaming “the big data train is going nowhere”. The truth is we are all so early in the “big data” curve, I’m pretty sure the train isn’t even ready to the leave the station. Job descriptions, titles and roles and responsibilities are still being heavily debated. There are websites and conferences and books and papers and slide shares and supplier papers et al, all jockeying for leadership position. Many with credible solutions and positions but as many without. It isn’t new technology nor even the addition of a few data scientists that will unleash the value of big data. It is the collective and iterative efforts of all people involved that will take the early promise of data and practically turn it into value for an organization and for the industry.

I believe it is without question that, to stay competitive and ahead of customer demands, organizations must envision and deploy a data strategy. It must start though at the beginning, with the right expectations and be deployed with the right approach, people, resources and organizational commitment. “Commitment” being another word for “a transformation of how the organization works”. Deploying a poorly envisioned or supported data strategy has the potential to be more dangerous than not having one at all. There is an art to leveraging data as much as there is a science. People drive both the art and science and the careful balancing of the two.

When looking to define this data strategy, there are many considerations that are as or more important than the technologies chosen to support the strategy. It is the who, how, what, when and why questions (as well as how these questions are asked and how they are answered) that make or break the value of data, regardless of size, to an organization. People ask and answer these questions.

Instead of running around screaming “data, data, data” should we instead be screaming “people, people, people.”?

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