Two interesting articles on big data have come across my transom in the past few days, and I wanted to comment on them.
The first article is from Inc. magazine entitled “5 Trends to Ignore in 2013” (Hat tip Elizabeth Engel). One of the five trends the author suggests small businesses ignore (and let’s face it, most associations ARE small businesses) is “big data.” As the author puts it,
“Most decisions are built on small data: dozens or hundreds or maybe thousands of data points. If you don’t have systems in place that let you regularly and predictably make effective use of the data you already have, then looking at big data is like saying you want to jump into the ocean to avoid getting damp from a summer shower.”
I couldn’t agree more. The vast majority of associations I work with don’t have systems in place to manage or analyze “big” data, nor do they have a need for it. It’s too easy to get sidetracked chasing big data when it’s the small data that will help you operate more efficiently, communicate more effectively, and advance your mission.
The second article is from ASAE’s Association Now, in an article entitled “Learning to Love Big Data, a Little at a Time.” This article addresses the issue of big data for associations, and includes some choice quotes from yours truly. This article also emphasizes that small data is better than big data:
“Those “who focus their efforts and dive deep into a few business-critical sets of data such as sales in a specific sector, or performance metrics during peak vs. low seasons, will see quicker and better results than companies that try to take on too much,” said Santiago Becerra, cofounder of Roambi—a mobile business intelligence developer.”
Big data is all the rage, no doubt. But associations would be better served focusing on their “small data” and making sure they’re getting that right.
“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.”
“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”
Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan
“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”
Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance