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“More Data, More Problems”

By Holland Martini

The downside of data from a data lover …

As Biggie Smalls once poetically stated, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” Well, in my world, the truth is, “mo’ data, mo’ problems.” Businesses treat data like they treat their profits: the more data the better. And, that’s just wrong. Biggie is right. More data does cause more problems.

That’s right, a life-long data “guru,” “nerd,” “scientist,” etc. is telling you: more data is not always better. In fact, I am screaming it from the top of a virtual internet mountain. Will this put my job at risk? No, because it’s not how much data you have, it’s how you use the data that makes all the difference

Still, in every meeting and earnings call, I hear, “more!” Board members and executives are tasking their team to aggregate more data, they say, “more, more, more!” Even worse, once the data is collected, big decisions are made based on statistically insignificant nuances, or data that contradicts itself. I’ll repeat it again, more data is never the answer.

More data in fact can lead to false insights and faulty metrics.

False Insights

Here is an example where more consumer data resulted in less consumer relevance.

“Our segment over indexes on the color pink by 5 times!”. As a brand you may say GREAT! Let’s re-skin our website pink! Let’s make packaging pink! It’s very easy to get excited and reactive to insights. In this case however only 5% of their consumers actually like pink, and that just happens to be 5 times more than the average. This brand just changed its entire look and feel, and now will look silly to 95% of its consumers.

False insights happen when we get over excited about all the data we have. We start digging for insight, looking for a needle in a haystack, and take random stats to make what appear to be calculated data-driven decisions. It can result in rash decisions by a brand that results in irrelevant content or even offensive content to its consumers.

Faulty Metrics

More data can hinder your performance tracking, too.

Ever seen a list of 20 KPIs (Key performance indicators) for a single campaign? Words of wisdom I received early in my career, which I find myself constantly repeating “There is a K in KPI for a reason- it’s the KEY performance indicators”.

When you look at 5+ metrics to make a decision you will end up with more questions than answers. One metric will go up, one will go down. Now what? One of the biggest mistakes brands make when tracking marketing success is setting too many performance goals. This can lead to internal confusion, slow down optimization time, and confuse consumers.

We need to face the facts. More data does not make your company smarter. It does not make you more cutting edge. It does not give your company a competitive advantage. STOP thinking about what else you can collect and start thinking about how you can curate smart data, avoid false insights, and stop tracking bad KPIs!

To learn more about how you can curate smart data and stop tracking bad KPIs, contact us today.