Due in large part to the internet, the amount of available data about customers and their habits has skyrocketed.  Data is now published online and elsewhere in massive quantities, and the numbers are constantly changing and being updated.  Companies want their marketers to use this goldmine of information to help strategize marketing techniques, but the huge amount of data can make anyone feel overwhelmed.

The amount of data currently available is truly astonishing.  Forbes online cites a report from McKinsey & Co that says by 2009, large companies had 200 terabytes of stored data about customers.  Forbes.com says, “To put such a huge number in perspective, consider that just 10 terabytes can hold the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress.”

Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird of the Harvard Business Review write about while marketers are under increasing pressure to rely on data, most still rely too heavily on their intuition.  Marketers rely on their gut when making decisions about marketing strategy, rather than using available data, because it’s easier and most don’t have a firm grasp on even the basics of statistics.

Without a solid background in statistics, understanding how to manage and interpret even relatively small amounts of information can be a Herculean task.  Most marketers prefer to skip the math lesson and rely on their instincts instead, which can yield mixed results.

The Harvard Business Review also reports that while there are a number of marketers who do spend their days wading through the data, they often can’t see the forest for the trees.  They get distracted by the slightest change, and change strategies too quickly.   Managers can help their marketers by defining clear goals about data and coaching them to be aware of data interpretation errors.

The data explosion has just begun.  The companies that can figure out how to effectively store, sort through, and analyze massive amounts of consumer data will have a leg up as the 21st century marches on.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
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