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The Urgent Need for Data Literacy

The Urgent Need for Data Literacy

I have some difficulties at translating with a short and meaningful English sentence the famous Italian expression (in fact, a sort of vernacular jargon in Rome) “‘ndo cojo cojo“!

It sounds like a Japanese saying, but it means something like “shooting randomly”.

In the area of marketing and communication, it’s a method of aiming at a broad target without making any distinction in terms of messages and recipients: it doesn’t really matter by whom and how my message will be received.

It’s a typical syndrome that affects many companies, that implicitly assume that their marketing and communication strategy could be good (or bad?) for everybody, while all of us know that the market is made of very different entities, both individuals and companies, in both the consumer and B2B industries.

Plain common sense would suggest that, unless we can target our prospective clients individually (something that is becoming more and more feasible in many areas, thanks to technology), we should at least attempt to “segment” them in internally homogeneous and externally different groups, in order to adjust our messages accordingly, at least to some extent.

About three months ago, I published a post on clustering clients, briefly referring to an old experience of segmentation in the gearmotors industry and to a more recent work on segmenting internationally-minded SMEs in order to provide them with the most appropriate services.

I had also indicated, as a prerequisite for a systematic market analysis, the awareness of the importance of segmentation, especially considering:

  • the accelerated dynamism of the market behavior in the internet era
  • the possibility of collecting data that would have been difficult to access just few decades ago
  • and the growing availability of analytical and diagnostic tools for interpreting the data.

Of course, this awareness is hardly sufficient.

We need to know which data should be collected and how to collect them, but this again is not sufficient!

Can you imagine that we also need to collect them?

This consideration sounds trivial, but unfortunately, it’s incredible to see how many companies

  • do not have critical and easy to collect data about the characteristics and behavior of their best, average, and worst clients and prospects
  • do not record the data in appropriate CRM systems
  • and obviously cannot use the most powerful and accessible software tools (Business Intelligence in particular) to make sense of the data and make better decisions.

I let the conclusion (for now) to Tom Redman, one of the most authoritative data analytics experts: There are fewer and fewer places for the “data illiterate” and, in my humble opinion, no more excuses.

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