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Importance of Data

Importance of Data
Published date January 15, 2021
Author Raphael Bohlmann

Urinal and the importance of data? How did that even relate?!

While attending Stanford University for an executive program in marketing, I received some words of wisdom from one of my professors where he stated, “If you take 2 things away from this course it should be (1) opt-in vs opt-out (I will talk about this in a future blog), and (2) data. You cannot make good decisions without good data”. This was pretty interesting to hear from Marketing professors, but the realization is we make decisions based on the available data we have, and data comes in many forms. We know the importance of a CRM tool that tracks data from individuals in a sales funnel. CRM tools organize and log data to produce a method of contact and follow up for salespeople. If you have ever used a CRM tool, properly, you will know how beneficial they can be. I know a local realtor who spends every morning calling 29 people. 8 each hour for the first 3 hours and 5 the last hour of the morning to leave room for the early callers who are calling back. He is quite probably the top realtor in our community and certainly in the top realtors in Alberta. Few have the stamina to do this but organizing, gathering, and following up on good data is how he became the top realtor!

There is a phrase, “What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed”. It has been credited being said by Peter Drucker but there is a debate whether he actually said it? Is it true? I believe for the most part it is especially when it comes to business. How would an auto manufacturer know how many red vehicles to produce if they were not keeping track of data? How would they know which colour will be the next hot colour if they do not track data of current design and colour trends? By the way, the hot new colours for 2021 are yellow and grey. At least we have one of those in our company style.

Back to Stanford and one of our case studies, yes, we actually studied this at Stanford. If a male standing at a urinal pees straight on there is significant spray but if aiming off to one side the curvature of the porcelain urinal deflects the spray. It was with this data the urinal manufacturers decided to embed an insect, a fly into the porcelain off to one side of center. This provided a “target” if you will for individuals standing at the urinal trying to aim for the insect. This drastically decreased the amount of backsplash from the urinal. Success through data analysis!

There are countless reasons to capture and analyze data. Practically every good business decision should be backed up with supporting data, but should every decision be based on data? When Steve Jobs was asked about ‘focus groups’ he stated, “how could I ever use a focus group when I am inventing devices no one has ever thought of before?” Selected visionaries are using their creativity to anticipate what a consumer may want; I still may suggest they are based off trends. Even the iPod was based on a better solution than the old ‘Walkman or Discman’.

Data is not measured to determine the value of your volunteer hours in your community, data is not used to determine your worth in raising your child, but good data is usually a tremendous benefit when making important business decisions. Are you measuring the right things? Are you measuring your data?

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