Data, Data, Everywhere Nor Any Drop of Insight


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OK, so it’s not quite as catchy as the line from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner but it describes a problem many of us marketers are facing these days.  With the proliferation of interactive technology and a significant decrease in the costs of storage, many marketers have become customer data hoarders.  As such, many of us are having a hard time finding that favorite “customer insight sweater” in a closet overflowing with customer data.  I suggest we all embark on some spring cleaning of our customer data to make sure we are deriving as much value from it as we should be.

I suggest we consider the following steps for de-cluttering our customer data stores: 

1.       Create a prioritized list of customer data stores for de-cluttering by rank ordering the list of data stores by which one is the most important sources of customer data.  By prioritizing your list, you will ensure that you at least get the highest priority stores de-cluttered and will gain the most benefit. 

2.       Do a proverbial walk through of the customer data in each of the data stores in order of priority and begin trashing all of the data that you are not utilizing.  (Note if you do not have the intestinal fortitude to delete all unused customer data, see the “self storage” approach below.) 

3.       Do another walk through of the customer data in each data store and this time examine the relative usefulness and frequency with which you use this data to identify the 20% of data you used 80% of the time.  If you haven’t used it within the last month, it does not belong in this bucket. 

4.       Re-examine the usefulness of the 20/80 data.  These data elements are those that you have not used for more than a month.  Look at this data with a critical perspective of what decisions will you not be able to make without this data.  If no decisions are impacted or if they have little business impact, then add this data to your trash bin. 

5.       Make sure you keep your customer data clutter free by deploying a “self storage” approach.  Create a small analytic data mart and utilize a sampling strategy to store a representative sample of the entire customer data universe.  This will allow your analytic team to mine a sample of the complete customer data set to uncover any new trends that you may want to start capturing and storing a full data set on.

Taking these steps will help bring some sense of sanity back to your customer analytics and marketing efforts.  It will help get you out from under the overwhelming mass of data you are storing and back to uncovering and leveraging the key insights you can derive from the truly valuable information on your customers.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Strabley
An experienced consultant and entrepreneur, John Strabley shares his progressive skills with clients as a Chief Strategist at Optumine. His clients have included Disney, ESPN, Verizon, Roche, USPS, Motorola, John Deere, Sotheby's, British Airways, SAP, AstraZeneca, Nielsen, Citrix, Wyeth and AARP.


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