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Each day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. That's one followed by 18 zeros and is equal to 57.5 billion 32 GB iPads. No matter how many data scientists continue to enter the market, it's hard to imagine any organization making sense of all that information. It's no wonder that most data doesn't count and companies are struggling to figure out what data matters most, as well as how to make sure that information is positively influencing business growth.
While data is all around us, it's shockingly one of your most underutilized assets. Why? Because overanalyzing data, like anything else, can do more harm than good and without the right guidance, it's not going to provide the value its capable of delivering. Here are some tips based on my experiences in working with data on how businesses can make their data do more.
Change the job description of data
Employees with close access to data have a hard time thinking outside the box. They tend to collect and analyze tons of data, without seeing the bigger picture of where the information they're privy to sits across their business, industry and, at times, the world. Data analysts working in a vacuum are seldom effective and without context, valuable data can get lost in the noise and bigger trends can be overlooked. Changing how data is thought of, used and elevated throughout a business is key to changing its job description and it doesn't have to stop at the door step.
Downsize data that isn't working
Remember that not all data is good data. Downsizing data means weeding out the most important information quickly. It's imperative to leverage the right tools and technologies, and hire the right people to ensure that useful data is being extracted and utilized within an organization. When it comes to data, efficiency should be a top priority. Have you ever wondered how YouTube ads have gotten not only targeted, but extremely relevant over the last few years to the point where you're almost buying what's being advertised? YouTube has cracked the code when it comes to pulling the right information about users and throwing out data that isn't. The good news about downsizing data is that it can upsize profit, if done right.
Get data out of its comfort zone
Data has a reputation of being characterized by CRM, ERP, BPM and any other three letter acronym data collection system you can think of. But, data needs to break away from its reputation of living in massive databases and move into areas that are less cozy and more personal. Take the voice of the customer, for example. Too many times, the voice of the customer is ignored - mostly due to the fact that it's not very comfortable to give customers the control to provide unfiltered feedback. Though brands are increasingly striving to be customer-centric, like Cisco and Amazon, the irony is that they seem to be wary about giving end-users a say in things that matter most. Attitudinal data captured online through social media, forums or communities is just as important as other data sets mentioned, like transactional or behavioral. Capturing the perceptions of customers in real time to see if that data aligns, conflicts or confirms with other data is essential to capturing a 360 degree view of the customer during a time when customers matter most. Looking at all data sources for broader insights, trends and/or outliers ensures important customers aren't ignored and that meaningful data is not unused.
Challenge data to predict the next move
People's opinions are constantly changing over time. It's important to understand how consumers behave throughout their lifespan - only data collected over time through ongoing conversations can provide this kind of information. For instance, Facebook needs to (if it isn't already) engage with Gen Z's to recognize why this group of youngsters prefer Snapchat over traditional social media moguls like itself. Looking into a rear view to get a sense for what's been done it helpful, but it's not everything and it sure won't help make smart choices in the future. Make sure to constantly account for the changes in individuals, customer segments and generations through two way conversations in order to realize what move to make next. Or, be left behind.

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