How Data is Like a Tomato
Ok, bear with me. I promise I haven't gone completely bananas. You have one big, beautiful, red and sweet smelling tomato. It's a fruit; you know that. But you wouldn't put it in a fruit salad, would you? It's only of value to you when you put it with a green salad, or in a pasta dish, or in a one of those filling and delicious BLT baguettes, i.e. when you put it in the right context. And of course, before you do that, you'll rinse it off and make sure it's clean.
Put your Clean Data in the Right Context
It's the same with a piece of data. Unless you put it in the right context, it's not a piece of information that has a value for you. The information that a former customer, Jonnie X, has moved to take up a job in Japan will not be of the slightest interest to your Board of Directors who are considering whether there is a market for a new product idea. To a marketing manager overseeing a proposed direct mail campaign, however, it could save the cost of sending out one printed package. When you have hundreds of similar pieces of information, the cost savings add up. And that's what you get when you use clean data in the right context.
Data Will Tell if you Should be Selling Tomatoes or Plates
If you have hundreds of tomatoes, you are probably a greengrocer who sells them. You keep data on your sales of tomatoes over a period of time. If you decide to introduce a special offer of a tomato on a plate and your profit suddenly goes sky high, you'll be wondering why. Is it the plates that are so attractive to your customers?
Perhaps you should move into the plate selling sector. Should you add another arm to your business, ditch the greengrocery aspect, or carry on selling tomatoes and plates together? You might try some little experiments, or you might decide to survey your customers. Whatever way you do it, you'll have to collect data. And you need to make sure it's accurate and that you haven't asked the same questions of the same people more than once, before you analyse it. In this sort of context, the data is of vital importance at the most senior level.
Eat your Tomatoes and Be Sure your Data is Fit for Business
If you leave your tomatoes too long before eating them, they will go mouldy and rot. They need to be used up at the right time. Like tomatoes, your data will get a bit mouldy if it is neglected over time. Unlike tomatoes, though, you can clean up mouldy data and make it fit for use.
So make sure you use clean data and put it in the right context at the right time.