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Data: The Haves and the Have Nots

by Rebecca Adair

November 18, 2019

Last week I lost my phone, bank cards, and ID. They slipped out my pocket as I was cycling and the resulting few days were interesting. With app driven banking and international cards all needing two-factor authentication, coupled with the inability for some financial institutions to actually provide a phone number to call, I quickly fell off the planet and became invisible. Pathetically, I felt powerless.


This week, with a new phone, I return from a conference where Forrester and the Economic Intelligence Unit suggests 27% future business growth for companies with a direct line to data and the insights driven from it, compared to the typical growth rate of 3.5%. This gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots I suspect will grow even wider.

I also saw from Forrester that only 7% of companies had a great fix on insights driven from their data. These (surprise surprise) were the brands having a sustained competitive advantage and reaping that 27% growth p.a.

So where does that leave the rest of us? We all have data
sitting in separate silos usually not talking to each other. We have analytic platforms that sometimes do a brilliant job in isolation but again don’t speak with each other. We have social analytics, attribution models and reports providing engagement, conversion and ROI/ROAS metrics in great detail. All very valuable, but it’s the connecting of these together to make meaningful business decisions and translating these into effective action that will dictate the winners and the losers. Those who are connected will ‘have’, and those who aren’t ‘have not’.

Overlaid on top of all this is the proliferation of agencies, suppliers, providers, and consultants, some operating fabulously within their own scope and silo. As we saw when media and channels exploded, so too did agency and supplier specialists. As data explodes so do the people required to translate it. All of which increases the divide between data, insight and action. No wonder the IPA reported last week that marketing effectiveness was down by 39%.

For a few years living in NewYork I witnessed and enjoyed significant investment in the convergence of data for people like me. I’m not a data scientist but a strategist. I like to combine human behaviour physically witnessed and listened to, with the significant power provided by the fingerprints left behind in the digital engagement. Merged together, they confess the true behaviour, interests and attitudes of those who are consumers, and more importantly those who are yet to be consumers for your brand but who have expressed great interest. Large tracts of digital qualitative data provide WHAT is happening combined with smaller personal sets of data providing the WHY – the identification of emotional and rational drivers required for growth. Without both I don’t believe you can effectively grow.

With those, the next stage is identifying the most powerful insights. The real gems. The gold that unlocks future growth and changes in human behaviour. The machines can provide and crunch data, but it usually takes humans who’ve been around on the planet for a while to see the wood from the trees.

It’s us humans that can spot something genuine, new and powerful and translate this into execution that stops people
in their tracks. It’s us humans that have an empathetic understanding and can provide a real dialogue with consumers. And these humans work (and sometimes live) in creative agencies.

At the same conference this week I spotted a guy in a hoodie. On the back it read, “creatives are the new athletes.” I liked it and I’m not a creative. But I can provide something to help them do the best work they can. Like athletes, the information and insight they are provided with is essential to generate the power they can unleash. Good creatives use insights driven by data to strengthen their power and reach the levels of growth required brands need to thrive.

The Haves now need to have the data, the people who know what to do with it and those who can translate it to something brilliantly creative that shifts both behaviour and fortunes. The Have Nots, well...have not.

This is not new. We’ve always had to establish systems of insight to unleash the power of creativity. It’s just we need to build the right architecture using the right tools. This may be the incredibly powerful digital convergence tools available today. I use some of these and clients have been amazed with what they can produce. Or it may be using more traditional research tools to answer fundamental questions. It may even (and probably) be an approach integrated together that ensures we’re positioned for high growth and not treading water whilst the Haves stampede over us.


Digital / social media
data and insight