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Stop hoarding data!
7 April 2009, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

When working with my clients on data conversions, I always point out that they should convert as little data as possible, since that is easier and typically less expensive.

I also tell my clients to never collect any data they’re not going to use. These days it’s too easy (and cheap) to ask for and collect all kinds of data. But the reality is, we rarely use the data we collect.

Here’s an interesting article from Knowledge@Wharton about managing data. I especially like this:

The problem with the data hoarding approach is that companies can’t use most of the information they keep, adds Fader. Meanwhile, they become data pack rats, chasing an illusory dream of one-to-one marketing, which he says “is a myth. The best thing to do is aggregate information so companies can predict something like, ‘Among all people who bought five times or more, how many times are they likely to buy in the next year?'”

It’s easy to collect data. It’s much more difficult to put that data to good use. You should always be asking yourself: “How are we going to use this data?”

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2 Comments on "Stop hoarding data!"

Scott Oser - 8 April 2009 Reply

Wes, You make a really good point. Collecting and keeping data just for the sake of collecting and keeping data is not cost or resource effective. Whenever I read about organizations doing it I think of companies like Giant and CVS and Safeway. Everyone one of them now makes me have a card in order to get their special pricing. Obviously they are using it to track data on my purchases. I still have yet to figure out how they are using that data considering I rarely if ever get special promotions that are based on my past purchases. Could I be selling them short and assuming the worst when the reason they are sending me coupons for things I never buy is because they want me to try them? For some of the items they promote to me you might be able to convince me that is the case. When they offer me discounted diapers even though I have a 9 and an 11 year old it proves my theory that they are sitting on tons and tons of info and not doing anything with it but hoarding it.

Wes Trochlil - 13 April 2009 Reply

Scott, funny you should mention that, because I've had the exact opposite experience at Giant. The coupons they spit out at me always seem to be dead on with what I'm using (or have recently used) from OTC medicines to yogurt for the kids.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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