The True Value of Data

Businesses of all sizes need analytics to get the most from their data.


We live in the Information Age or, as some are now calling it, the Age of Big Data. Yet many of us do not appreciate the value of the information available to us. While there are legitimate concerns about data privacy and we need to respect confidentiality, too often we leave valuable insights on the cutting room floor or fail to be proactive with information that is readily available.

Organizations spend millions of dollars developing content for their websites. But when this web content is downloaded, many fail to capture who is reading what or why. They simply look at the numbers in aggregate and congratulate themselves on the traffic they have created, focusing on quantity rather than quality. Unfortunately, in doing so they may miss customer insights or fail to follow up on what may be very good prospects. Similarly, many organizations fail to see the bigger picture or look at shifts in data over time and, thus, fail to spot emerging trends. Many organizations have failed because they took a very narrow view of data with no mechanism for looking forward. Had they been more sophisticated in data analytics, they may have been more prepared for what lay ahead.

A number of years back, I was working on a potential product for the health services industry. It would have provided a database of information on patients and would have enabled them to have better access to their medical records and more control of healthcare options. There were privacy and confidentiality issues, and the team ultimately decided not to pursue it. At the time, I remember thinking that lost in the discussion about the value of this information to individuals was the value of the data at a macro level to track diseases, drug interactions, etc. We were looking at the proverbial trees, yet there was a tremendous amount of value to be had looking at the forest. Had they brought this product to market, I am not sure the wider implications of the available data would have been realized.

Andrea Goldberg
Andrea Goldberg, PhD, is president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC and an expert in market intelligence, social media and change leadership. She provides organizations with a holistic perspective on how to best to use insights and collaboration to improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction and business results.

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