The Devil is in the Data – a Serial Killer Story

Oct 19, 2023

The Devil is in the Data – a Serial Killer Story

As the data and insights lead for Inspike and having filled that role for a decade in two of Australia’s largest media companies, it surprises people when I tell them I didn’t do maths in school as I wasn’t particularly good at it. Data isn’t maths, it’s storytelling, a mystery book packed with both red herrings and hints which in its entirety unfolds to unmask the villain.

Data analytics uses numbers, but what we do with them is more akin to an archaeologist or detective rather than a mathematician or physicist. The process is to draw all of the available threads together to create a snapshot in time, and then to look back to create a trending pattern, establish a market and competitor comparison, and project forward to create goals and strategies.

I’m a big fan of true crime. As a media demographer I know this is somewhat unusual, as true crime podcast listenership skews heavily female. Explaining why that is needs its own blog, so stay tuned for that one. I reference this as the 1970’s in the US were the high point for serial killers, Bundy, Berkowitz, Dahmer, Gacy – The police tracked them for years with an enormous amount of data points but struggled to turn them into actionable insights to catch them. Technology, specifically DNA technology, has now all but put an end to long term serial killers. The landscape now for business is very similar. Our access to forensic and diagnostic data is so strong and so detailed, there’s nowhere for the business problems to hide – so long as there’s someone looking for them.

And that is why the devil is in the data. The small, often overlooked details can hide complexities which will create trouble later on (or are already creating it). They’re identifiable but not in plain sight and become more obscured under the sheer weight of data which modern businesses accumulate. The Yorkshire Ripper was interviewed nine times but not identified or arrested for over ten years by a police force simply overwhelmed by the scale of their investigation. The constabulary failed to cross reference data or collaborate between divisions. The killer was right in front of them but couldn’t be identified amidst the volume of competing noise.

We see this scenario facing the majority of businesses we engage with. Overwhelmed by data. Dazzled by dashboards. Flooded with reports. The data is voluminous but unrefined. Dispersed across multiple systems. Snap-shotted not trended. Backward facing not forward projecting.

So how does Inspike work with you to catch these silent killers before they murder your growth potential?

Aggregating Your Data: Let's start with the basics. Small businesses have access to numerous data sources, from website analytics to social media insights, sales figures, customer feedback, and more. The problem is, most of us are guilty of not aggregating this data. Why does it matter? Well, if you're not keeping an eye on the whole picture, you won't notice when things break. Your digital ads might go past the point of diminishing returns, or your CRM forms might be letting leads slip through the cracks. Data aggregation is like having a radar for your business - it alerts you to issues before they become major problems.

The Power of Trending: Trends aren't just for fashion. When it comes to your business, trending data can be your crystal ball. If you're not tracking trends, you can't accurately forecast. And we all know that accurate forecasts are the key to growth. It's like predicting the weather – you wouldn't plan a beach day when a storm's brewing, right?

Understanding Diagnostic Data: Now, let's talk about diagnostic data. You've got two main types, owned data and earned data.

Owned Data: This is the information you collect and control, like sales data, website analytics, P&L and direct customer feedback. It's your direct source of truth about your business. Think of it as the heart of your data universe – you need to keep it healthy and pumping.

Earned Data: This is the data that you gather from external sources, like social media interactions, online reviews, market and competitor benchmarks and mentions about your business. It's like the whispers of the world talking about you. It can provide valuable insights into how your brand is perceived in the wild, and how you stack up in your channel.

The Role of Business Intelligence: Here's where the magic happens – Business Intelligence (BI). BI tools like Power BI and Google Looker Studio are like the wizards that transform your data into actionable insights. These tools are the bridge between your raw data and the decisions you need to make. They turn numbers and statistics into stories that you can understand and act upon.

Google Looker Studio – The Democratisation of Data: Google Looker Studio is a game-changer for small businesses. It's making advanced data analytics accessible to the little guys. It's like having a personal data scientist at your disposal. With Google Looker Studio, you can gain insights that were once reserved for the big players. Our Data + option through the discovery process will have your dispersed data gathered into your own Looker Studio account, refined and maintained during Implementation.

So, why is all this relevant? The aim here is to get you thinking about how unleashing the power of your data can transform your business. If you've got a curious itch to explore, it might be time for an exploratory engagement. I've been at the helm of data for major media businesses, dealing with multiple massive data streams, and I've seen the impact great aggregated can have, especially in cost reduction as well as profit growth. Your data is your untapped superpower, and it's time to use it.

If you're keen to learn more about how data can supercharge your business, reach out for a chat. Inspike’s here to help you on your data journey, and together, we can avert the killers lurking to prevent your full growth potential.