Column: What you should be measuring


Commentary by Angelina Iturrian

There has been a lot of talk recently about big data. How to get on board, collect it, manage it and how to recruit data scientists to analyze it. Many are now looking toward data-mining techniques and hopes for AI to elevate big data into working and learning solutions, all in real time. But truth be told, most of our clients are still trying to get a foothold on simply utilizing their data.

Let’s look at some of our more meaningful business questions.

The right data?

Has your company struggled with what to do with the data it already has? Take a step back and ask: What do the numbers mean to your business? And what actions should be taken to improve the most important metrics of the business? If the data isn’t feeding into your key performance Indicators, then you are probably capturing the wrong data. What are we trying to achieve? Now, look at the data you are collecting and make sure it aligns with those goals.

Better decisions

This is the crux. What is the point in capturing data if it doesn’t provide any real insights that allow you to make better business decisions? Successful brands know how they are different and what they do best. They avoid the “all things to all people” trap.

Look for trends and opportunities

The beautiful thing about data is the potential to harness it into better products and strategy. Don’t get stuck focusing on data which simply tells you how much and how often. Look for unique groups and segments which signal trends or opportunities. Make sure you have data that focuses on the “jobs to be done.” Once you get to the point of knowing your way around the data, start compiling a list of possible actions you could take to engage what the data is telling you. This could be as simple as brainstorming calls to action for each corresponding data story.

Context is key

Truth be told, listening is the most powerful thing any company can do. What does the data really mean? I’m a big fan of data (shocker!). But I never fail to be surprised by how much can be learned by simply listening to customers tell their stories. Data can only tell us so much if we don’t use the stories to thread the data points together. Understanding context is what will lead to higher-level decision making.

Angelina Iturrian is the director of accounts for SMARI Research, an Indianapolis-based market research company.

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