Data, data and more data. That’s what online communities and businesses are creating every day. In fact, there’s now so much of it, that it can be difficult to understand what it really means and know how to deal with it. To help, we interviewed the CEO of Paribus 365, Mark Cooper, for his thoughts on the topic.
According to DOMO, by the end of 2020 there’ll be 40x more bytes of data than there are stars in the observable universe. How can we rationalise statistics such as this and what they actually mean?
It’s definitely important to rationalise them and understand what constitutes that amount of data. What’s contributing to it, what has suddenly changed to get these numbers to where they are today. If we take ourselves back 10 years or so, those figures were by no means even conceivable. But then we fast forward to here and now and realise that every single one of us on this planet, in some way, shape or form, is contributing to that digital footprint.
What do we mean by digital footprint? There are many ways to describe it. We create our digital footprint by the things we do, the services we’re involved in, our various social media channels and the use of our smart phones. Every single smart phone today has a camera, something that going back to my early childhood each household was lucky to have one of! Now everyone has a camera at their fingertips, and they’re all taking digital photographs. And the data associated with these images has to go somewhere. That’s when we have to start being pragmatic about the significance of the data in our digital footprint and how much of it is actually relevant to us.
What technology is available to help us keep track of all this data?
Let’s stick with the topic of smart phones and their cameras. I don’t know about you, but I use my phone to take pictures of everything. Largely because I’m pretty lazy! For example, if I’m interested in a product, rather than writing stuff down about it on paper there and then, I’ll take a picture of it to remind me to go and do some deeper research on it at a later date. My phone’s camera has become more than just that; it’s become my note taker, a diary if you will.
The problem with this is that when I look at my camera roll, I’m suddenly up to 2,000 – 3,000 photographs. Some of them relevant, some of them completely irrelevant, some of them so old that I can’t even remember taking them! So, how do we best manage this? Well, most smart phones these days have the ability to search your camera roll by typing in particular terms. For instance, if I knew I took a picture of a sofa I was interested in buying, I can search for the word “sofa” and it will shortlist all the images I’ve got of sofas in my photo album. This is one way we have of controlling our digital footprint.
How does this relate to businesses?
The idea of a smart phone is useful to relate to people in their everyday lives. But you’re right, we also need to consider this issue from a business perspective. In many respects, data is a company’s biggest and most precious asset. Like most things though, if this data is not cared for, we’re in for some serious trouble. This is the ugly side of business and data that people usually avoid talking about.
I often think of it like walking into a car showroom. You see a gleaming, brand new and nicely polished car that’s begging you to buy it. However, no one really wants to address what’ll happen when it needs maintenance and how it’ll look after 10,000 miles of driving. Unless you put a little bit of effort back into it, it’s never going to look as it did the first time you saw it in the show room.
It’s the same with a CRM. We always think adopting a new system is going to be fantastic and everything we want it to be, but very few of us are prepared when it comes to managing the data within it further down the line. We need to ensure that there is effort applied to keeping that data in shape. It needs to be regularly put through its paces and cleansed so that its back to the same way it was when we initially bought the system.