You Ask, I Answer: What Does Data-Driven Mean?

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You Ask, I Answer: What Does Data-Driven Mean?

In today’s episode, we answer the question, “What does data-driven mean?”

You Ask, I Answer: What Does Data-Driven Mean?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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And today’s you ask. I answer, asking the question, what does data driven mean? So here’s the way I explain data driven. Most of us have one of these things, right? As a map application on there, some kind of Google Maps Apple Maps, whatever. How does that work? How do you use it? Do you just get in the car, start driving and see what the app tells you?

Maybe, you know, there there are people who like to do that kind of exploration for most of the time to use that tool. We open it up. We set a destination and then we hit Go, Hit Start, and the software looks at all the possible routes to get from where we are to where we want to go and takes into account things like traffic, road closures, et cetera, and gives us a recommended route That is literally being data driven.

You are being data driven when you set the destination and then the machine helps you navigate. Now, notice that the machine doesn’t do the driving for you, right? You still have to get behind the wheel is for now as self-driving cars improve. Obviously that may change. But for today, in 20, 22 you still have to do the driving.

You still have to set the destination. But the machine guides you on making choices. And sometimes those choices, you may know better, right? If you’re just using the app locally, you may know, oh gosh, actually that route that you picked is technically shorter, but it’s an unpleasant drive. I’d rather take the slightly longer, but that’s less efficient. But a much more pleasant drive.

Right? Or Hey, I know that that road that you say is closed is not actually closed. And so you may make different choices, but especially when you’re in a geography that you don’t know, being data driven in this example means you put in the destination, you let the machine guide you, right? You make your choices based on what the machine tells you based on its data.

When we talk about being data driven in business, in marketing and strategy, that’s what we mean. Mean the data that you have should be able to tell you, here’s what’s likely to happen. And the best recommendations for moving in the direction you want to go. This presents some rather difficult challenges, doesn’t it? Because last I checked, no software that we use actually gives us driving directions, right?

When you open up Google Analytics, it doesn’t tell you what to do with your website. Right? When you open up your marketing automation software, it doesn’t tell you what to put in your next newsletter. And so even though we will talk about being data driven and even though analytics companies and analytics software will say, adopt a data driven mindset, it doesn’t match up to what is actually being data driven.

Right? Because unlike a GPS, none of these pieces of software acts like a GPS. They don’t tell you what turn to take next. You know, the destination you want to go to, right? You know, you need 10,000 marketing qualified leads or $100,000 in pipeline or whatever the number is. You know where you need to go but the promise that we’ve sort of established from the discussions about being data driven versus the reality are pretty far apart.

We don’t have much that allows us to be data driven, not in the truest sense of turn right now we’re starting to we’re starting to predictive analytics in particular, starting to get to a point where there’s more guidance right? If you have things that are cyclical and seasonal, you can use trend analysis and forecasting to make decisions and predict what’s likely to happen coming up.

But it is early days for that, right? It’s very, very early days. And the reality is right now it’s inaccessible to a lot of people. When I put together my content calendar, I used predictive analytics. I use forecasting. Here’s what the terms that are likely to be trending in the next week or month or whatever but that’s with software that I wrote and data sets that I ingest because I wrote software to to to get those to.

That’s not something that is universally available to everyone. And so I would argue that very, very few folks right now are data driven, not because they don’t want to be, not because they are doing something wrong, but because the tools don’t allow them to be data driven. There is no such thing as a marketing G.P.S. or a strategy or a financial G.P.S. that says make this decision next turn right here doesn’t exist.

Will it ever exist? I don’t know. It depends on how complex the models are, how much data they can ingest and how intelligently they can pass it.

But at the very least, it’s safe to say that for today, there isn’t much that allows you to truly be data driven right. So even though we have data and we have strong analysis and we have maybe some insights for market research, we don’t really have a ton of things that allow us to be truly data driven. We don’t have somebody or something saying, turn right here, When you address a vendor that is talking about how their software helps you be data driven.

Bring out that mental model of the map application on your phone. If I put my destination here, will your software tell me where to go Most software vendors, if they’re honest, will say, No, no, it doesn’t do that. It can give you some insights. It can tell you what happened. It can hint at things, but it’s not going to tell you which direction to go or when to do things.

That is still a function that is reserved for us as the decision makers. And it’s one of the reasons why a lot of the time when people ask, Is I going to take my job now? No, it’s not. Not if you’re good at your job because you still got to do the driving and you still got to set the destination and today you still have to decide what turn good decision to make turn by turn, because the software doesn’t tell you that.

Software tells you how far you’ve gone, how fast you’ve gone, how fuel efficient you’ve been. But that’s it, right? Most analytic software is rearview mirror only, and there’s not easy off the shelf solutions to be data driven. Again, it can be done, but it requires fairly technical teams and it requires access to data and knowing what you’re doing with it.

So it’s a challenging question. What is data being data driven mean? And the reality is that most of us are not, and that’s OK for right now. But know that that’s the goal. That’s where we want to get. And the first company in your sector, in your space that gets there is going to go really, really far, really quickly.

So our aspiration is to be that company so that we can do very well for ourselves. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll talk to you soon. If you like this video, go ahead and hit that subscribe button.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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