Innovation in the Age of Data Overload
Today’s marketing communications professionals have to manage data coming at them in ever-increasing quantities, at ever-increasing speeds. How can this be anything but a blessing? Well, too much data can be paralyzing. Insight becomes tougher to discern in a tsunami of information, and decisions are constantly postponed to “just analyze the data a bit more.”
Let’s face it – media data can be particularly challenging. Whether it is plan, competitive, sales, social media, or the various flavors of digital (display, search, site analytics, and rich media), the compass seems to swing in every direction when determining where to start the analysis.
Today’s marketer is being forced to adapt their analysis to deal with the overload. Savvy marketers are starting to turn to “Analytics Platforms”—what others call dashboards. Innovation in this space is beginning to gain critical traction, and it is important to understand what success looks like before pursuing this as a solution.
The first area that needs to be clearly defined is the analytic goal. There are many possible goals: a marketer may want to improve on-the-fly decision making, redistribute marketing dollars from an underperforming media type, demonstrate what competitors are spending, or determine what online buzz is telling us about our brand against its competitors. A clear goal will empower a team to innovate, choosing tools and making progress through an iterative approach.
Although data-processing technologies have improved exponentially in the past five years, there is no textbook approach for fostering innovation in this space. Hoping that someone in your organization will come up with a significant breakthrough is a formula for disappointment. The Rolling Stones’s Keith Richards woke up in the middle of the night and played the riff to “Satisfaction” on a cheap guitar and recorder, but this is not the “lightning in a bottle” strategy that produces consistent results.
The teams that analyze data need to choose approaches, make mistakes, and improve. By fostering a skeptical, innovative culture on a daily basis, a team is better positioned to make changes in a systematic way. Provide your team members with the flexibility to make mistakes and give them guidance so they can fine-tune their approaches. Slowly pushing forward and experimenting helps prevent over-investment in flawed applications.
Here’s the plan – stop analyzing your problem, recruit a motivated team to attack the problem set, give them the latitude to recommend approaches, fine tune the solution, and continue innovating in an incremental fashion. Have fun, because the surf is up and the forecast is for more and bigger waves in the world of data.