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You Ask, I Answer_ What Is Data-Driven_

Judi asks,

In a recent NY Times article on analytics in media, they make a distinction between being data informed as opposed to data driven, prizing human judgement over data and not letting data like pageviews dictate content strategy. What are your thoughts?”

Data-informed and data-driven to me are largely semantics; both indicate we are making decisions using data. I use the example of the GPS for what it means to be data-driven. Most of the time, we don’t ask our GPS to tell us our destination, just how to get there. A select few times, we’ll use an app to suggest destinations, but human judgement still matters most.

The article itself is an excellent read.

You Ask, I Answer: What Is Data-Driven?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s you ask, I answered Judy asks, in a recent New York Times article on analytics and media, they make a distinction between data informed, as opposed to data driven pricing, human judgment and editorial over data, and not letting each of us dictate content strategy. What are your thoughts? Well,

that’s a good question. Um,

data informed and data driven to me are largely semantics. And the reason for that is that both of these indicate we are making decisions using data, I use the example of a GPS, right for what it means to be data driven. When you open your smartphone, or for those older versions that are physical separate devices, you punch in your destination, and the software talks to the system. And the system figures out how to get you from where you are to go to where your destination is the best radio show, Mr. Fastest stories, you know, around traffic, things like that. Nobody, almost nobody


asks the GPS for a destination and randomly and how to get that right. I mean, you might do it for fun with like playing on Google Maps, like, hey, what is driving directions to get to,

you know, from Topeka to Tokyo, which you can’t do that anymore. But the point being,

we don’t ask the GPS for our destination, we asked the GPS for our journey, how do we get there in in the most optimal way. Same thing is true about being data driven, or data informed, we need to know the best way to get to our destination. But we are not asking our systems to tell us where to go. And that’s an important part, because that is the distinction in many ways between

strategy and tactics and execution,

right. Strategy is why we even in the car tactics are, you know, how are we going, you know, what, what choices are we going to make to get there and execute our other pieces of data. We used to make a safe and expedient journey. At no point in your strategy setting for marketing or for business in general, should you be

there going, Hey, wait a minute, why are we going?

That’s something that should not happen? So strategy is, why are we going, and that involves the setting of the destination? Is it possible that we will have reached a day where artificial intelligence and machine learning and deep learning

can suggest destinations? Absolutely, in some ways, we already do that. So

again, going back to driving,

there are plenty of times, particularly if you are a business traveler, where you get to a destination, and then you get to your hotel, and you’re like, I want to find someplace to eat. So you open up an app, and you ask the app know what places to eat. Are there that are nearby though the cuisine, they’re like in a price range. I like that are open right now.

And in this case, we’re using data to eat to to solve the problem of Where should we go? Or where should we get our food for, we still have the human judgment part of why are we doing this, why are we doing this, because we’re hungry, we want something to eat. And then we use the machine technology to help us identify where

how we want to solve that problem. And then again, you would then use the GPS to figure out how to get there in order to get something to eat.


many of the biggest business problems that we solve with marketing, like we need more revenue, we need to meet our help the team needed sales numbers, we need to retain customers, our problems that we still have to decide, we still have to decide that how metaphorically hungry, the organization is for new leads versus retaining customers, right, they’re going to have so much time and money unless you’re, I don’t know, like a bank.

And even though there’s resource constraints. So which of these pressing problems. Do we have to solve with human judgment and with informed by the biggest business and then we can use

machine technology to suggest all the different options that are available. And then we pick the options that make the most sense to us.

So we’re not at a point. And we will not be at a point for quite a while, where we just turn everything over to a machine. And a lot of people believe that that’s what data driven means. It’s even in this new york times article where they’re, they’re saying, We don’t let page us dictate our coverage. Our approach, you shouldn’t let page views dictate anything paid user, not a great indicator of anything other than ad sales.


instead, we need to have our machines helping us make our decisions better, and making our decisions faster.

How long would it take you, if you’re, if you’re under the age of,, this reference will make no sense to you, how long did it used to take you in business travel, to find a place to eat while you dig out the the yellow pages in, you know, buried in the, in the restaurant, dress in the hotel, room, dresser, and, and sift through all the different categories, all the different cuisines and stuff like that,

that would take a really long time and I just open up the app, find what’s open, you don’t make any phone calls to see if some places open and if they deliver to your hotel, you just

do that and and you get the answer. So the machines. Help us make better decisions because we know what’s open and make faster decisions, because you want to call every single restaurant in the area. Likewise, on the business side. And in the marketing side.

If we are building great machine learning models to truly be data driven, we don’t have to guess and try out a B tests every single possible marketing channel, we use things like attribution modeling, we use things like

subset modeling to figure out which combination the predictive analytics driver analysis to figure out what combination of things

is going to be most efficacious,

but we still need that human judgment to go,

I know something’s not right in that data.

I know something’s a little off, or I know we had an analytics problem here. So we need to, you know, select not you incorporate some of the data that we know is bad. So to sum up, data informed and data driven our semantic differences like a GPS, it is important that we, the humans

set the strategy

why we’re doing something set the destination

or use machine learning and and data to

figure out which destination is optimal for our

limited resources. And then use data

use analytics use insights, which is

the higher form of analytics

to get us to that destination in the most efficient and effective way possible. Great question, Judy complex question. And there’s a lot to unpack in this.

I do think that a lot of people do get mixed up as to what all these different terms means to be clear in your own lexicon and what you mean by data driven what your own semantic differences are,

as well as what you define strategy tactics, execution measurement as because that will help you disambiguate and and not get confused when you

are trying to explain your strategy, your tactics and your execution to your stakeholders. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and to the newsletter and I’ll talk to you soon. Take care.

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