By Mark Kersteen - April 22nd, 2014

Data is (even) more valuable than you think — It's gold. It's oil. It's the future. Data is a lot of things to a lot of people. But, if it isn't used wisely, it's worthless.

You've heard this before: data is the new oil.

Many CEOs have taken this to heart. Their response? Drill, baby, drill.

Companies, even the one you’re in right now (probably), want to get their hands on as much data about their customers as possible. And, they’re succeeding.

Data on the brain This is your brain on data.

Their desire for data is understandable. It is valuable; data is worth its nonexistent weight in gold. It allows companies to find out what their customers want—and which customers want what—with greater nuance than anyone could have imagined a decade ago. More data means more return on investment, or at least that’s what it has meant so far.  

The problem is, they’ve been a bit too successful.

"A change is coming."

Customers aren’t oil fields, and their data is a lot more valuable when it’s not just collected for its own sake. People are fed up with trading their information for slightly smarter spam. They’re fed up with their information leaking all over the internet. They’re just plain fed up.

A change is coming.

Consumers are learning how valuable / vulnerable their data is. They aren’t going to keep letting it go for free. The oil fields are starting to ask, “What’s in it for me?”

Companies have to adapt. Instead of fracking every last drop of data out of their customers, they need to offer something in return. They need to use customer data to be more valuable to their customers.

How are they meant to do that?

 "It’s about building healthy, natural, long term connections."

SEO offer mailer:Wes commsREV Without any real connections to back it up, your little black book is just pages and numbers.

As Mark Cameron at Working Three describes, there needs to be a change in the way corporations view their customer’s data. It shouldn’t be seen as a commodity, a resource where terabytes convert neatly into dollar signs. Instead, data is the foundation and very beginning of a long, mutually beneficial relationship with a customer. Think of that data as a phone number hard-won with repartee in a noisy barroom. It’s an expression of interest, but it’s just a start.

Right now, companies are like pickup artists who have perfected collecting numbers. But what good is a contact list full of names and digits when you don’t have any real, human relationships to go with them?

The future isn’t just going to be about collecting more and more complex sets of data. It’s going to be about using the data they have in clever, new ways. It’s about building healthy, natural, long term connections.

Of course, it’s easy to lay all of this out in vague terms and grand phrases. What form are these changes actually going to take, and what can you do right now to get ahead? Well, we have some ideas, but you’re going to have to stay tuned for our next installment.

In the meantime, you can answer us this:

If you're interested in using data to improve the customer experience, we happen to a panel on just such a topic at the upcoming Incite Summit West on May 13th to 14th. To find out more about this panel, the full conference schedule, and the event as a whole, head to www.incitemc.com/west.

 

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