Is It Time For A Data Diet?

I’m not sure if there is a term for it yet, but I know several people suffer from it.

Information overload.

Data fatigue.

Or maybe perhaps we can call it data dystopia.

My Facebook News Feed is filled with more life hacks than I know what to do with. My LinkedIn stream promises me that I have 1,000+ ways to get a promotion and be liked all at the same time. My Twitter feed is exploding with sentiment on the recent US / Iran nuclear deal.

It has been said that 90% of the world’s data was created within the last two years. Back in 2010, Eric Schmidt of Google stated that the amount of information being produced every two days is equivalent to the amount of information produced from the beginning of time to 2003.

That is a lot of information. And certainly more than most of our data-drowning brains can handle. This information can be both alarming and exciting, depending on how you manage your data intake.

At Umbel, we see companies come to us all the time with a similar problem. Their customer information is scattered everywhere and things feel noisy and confusing. And all the while, their data streams don’t skip a beat and continue to keep growing.

So how can companies manage their data diet and make good use of the massive amounts of data being thrown their way? Here are a few suggestions.

Step Back and Assess

Symantec reported that businesses are storing 2.2 zetabytes of data on average. And if you don’t know how much that actually is, you can refer to this handy explanation of data sizing. In short, it’s a significant amount.

With new tools, new applications, and new products being developed daily that are collecting customer information, it’s important to assess what streams of data are bringing you real business value and are worth keeping. For example, If you’re running ads on a network and getting little information or value in return, perhaps it’s a good time to downsize your data sources and hone in on where you are actually receiving valuable customer data.

Centralize Your Data

Once you have a clear understanding of where all your data is being stored, it’s time to get organized. When you’re dealing with such a high volume of data that’s coming at you nonstop, it’s incredibly difficult to clean up and organize your customer data — and ultimately extract value.

According to a recent Information Week article, most companies were only analyzing 12% of their data due to inaccessibility and a shortage of the right analytics tools. There is also the case of duplication and speaking to the exact same customer on several platforms, when you could — with the right Customer Data Platform — combine these identities to better market to this single customer.

Let’s take a look at the music festival Austin City Limits, for example. For anyone who has attended, you know there are several parties involved — attendees, sponsors, and vendors. Umbel client Front Gate Tickets was able to combine all their customer information, such as purchasing information, social data and email, for the purpose of being able to having a centralized database that would provide deep audience analysis resulting in better marketing campaigns and more accurate festival sponsorships. As a result, they were able to generate almost 40x on ad spend.

Visualize Your Data

Data visualizations are surfacing everywhere – from the NYTimes to the elections. When you have to analyze hundreds of thousands of data points, data visualizations are the only way to help you make sound business decisions in a short amount of time. There are several tools out there that allow you to compress your customer data into a beautiful and easy-to-understand visuals.

For example, earlier this year, Umbel was able to quickly analyze the SXSW Umbelmania attendees based on the social identities of over 7,000 people (with their permission). With data visualizations everyone from our CEO to our Events team to our Product team could easily understand our audience and several things about them — all within seconds.

Data overdose can be overwhelming, but if used correctly, the results can be exciting. Follow these few simple steps to keep your data in good shape.