The Danger of Data

binary-797274_1280Data is awesome. The more data the better. It is the thing that made Google and Facebook the titans they are today. And it’s why Twitter has fallen from the top of the heap and is working to regain its footing. Data is an invaluable tool in growing your business, and as with many invaluable tools, there can be risk involved.

The biggest risk that data poses is that of over-reliance. Data is exceedingly useful for showing patterns of behavior. But one must be careful not to read too much into them. Data can show you what was successful… but not necessarily what will be successful.

There are many variables in any given scenario, and in the field with live human beings, just because something worked this time does not guarantee success next time. And something that failed this time might surprise you under different circumstances.

The biggest pitfall with data is a reluctance to try something new. In a nearly limitless sea of data, something new and untested… something without data to support it… can seem worthless next to other options whose data runs deep, or worse they can just seem too risky.

And yet in a nearly limitless sea of options vying for attention, something unexpected is what is needed to cut through the clutter. The spaces growing an audience but untested by marketers are the best options for tapping into that audience before your competitors can get a foothold in the same space. The marketer who rests on the success of giving out one free ancillary loss leader might end up being usurped by a competitor who mails out microSD cards with the plans for customers to use their 3D printers to customize, create and distribute as many as they want (branded with the new company’s logo, of course). One company’s interactive mobile brochure will be ignored next to another’s VR product demo and tour of the manufacturing facility guided by the CEO himself, while a live salesperson stands by via skype ready to answer any questions.

When something works or fails, use the data to tweak the process and improve results. But don’t let that same data keep you from outsmarting your competitors with creativity and emerging technologies.