It's All Just Data


By Samuel Greengard

With all the discussion about big data, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that there's also a lot of mundane and easily extracted data that continually flies below the enterprise radar.

Today, there are lots of ways--perhaps too many--to extract value from the stream of bits and bytes flying by. Alas, many organizations and executives lose sight of the simple fact that it's critical to rely on old-fashioned, carbon-based brainpower to ensure that data and information are put to maximum use.

Charities are among the worst offenders. Typically, you send money to an organization and almost immediately find yourself coping with a stream of letters asking for more money and beckoning with gifts ranging from tote bags to bird guides. Worse, many charities attempt to guilt recipients into giving donations by including cute note cards or address labels.

I know I'm not alone in wishing that these organizations would nix the gifts, trim the volume of paper and put my money toward the organization’s overall goal. So, if I've previously sent a donation, why don't these charities simply ask me for my marketing preferences? That way, we'd maximize the contribution and avoid wasteful environmental practices. Instead, they continue to blast the shotgun.

Unfortunately, retailers are close behind. Every day, I receive a pile of catalogs brimming with appealing images of everything from cardigan sweaters to ceiling fans. Granted, some people love paper catalogs--and by all means a retailer should accommodate these individuals. But if I simply view the catalogs as junk mail, why send them? You're encouraging me to toss them straight into the recycling bin without taking a single glance.

Seriously, CIOs and other corporate executives must allow customers to choose what they want to receive and how they want to receive it. Snail mail, e-mail, text messages, whatever is best. This is a formula for a happy and engaged customer rather than someone who tunes you out … or gets irritated by all of the waste and quits sending contributions.

Big data. Little data. In the end, it's all just data. The value is in how it's used. 


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