Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Head Start From Data-Driven Decisions

“A 20-minute head start” is the story of any success I had during a four-decade career in community destination marketing.

So it was with interest that I read news reports this week in several publications that a study by researchers at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania (download at this link) has now quantified the difference one of those “20-minute head starts” can make in output and productivity.hero-data-driven

Data-Driven Decision-making (DDD) gives organizations a 5% to 6%+ boost in output and productivity over those using the traditional approach of “opinion, conventional wisdom and intuition,” even those who then search for data in support.

That’s it? some may say, but according to the report, the  difference is “significant enough to separate winners and losers.” The ability to make data-driven decisions is becoming even more critical with the amount of business data now doubling every 1.2 years.

Every organization has access to marketing intelligence these days so in my opinion there are six keys that differentiate whether an organization puts studies on the proverbial “shelf” after the obligatory news release or truly sinks its teeth into data-based decision making:

  • Suppress ego and shun politics
  • Actually read for content and application
  • Think, listen and make adjustments
  • Critically question “conventional” wisdom
  • Distill and track trends
  • Innovate strategically and tactically

That’s it!  Oh, and what were the other things I used to gain those “20-minute head starts” during my now concluded career?  They aren’t rocket science and I confess that I got an early jump by being the beneficiary of being in the right places at the right times:

In Spokane we seized on the then-novel idea of going after the 90% of visitors who are not traveling for conventions and meetings, while making sure we secured our fair market share of the latter.

In Anchorage we jumped on unique opportunities to generate and then apply marketing intelligence with in-flight surveys and early forms of performance measures to identify target niche markets.

Starting with a clean slate in Durham, we jumped on analytics, data-driven decision-making and technology to leapfrog much more established competition.

What’s surprising is how many organizations are still plugging along with last-century “opinion-intuition decision-making” but something tells me we lost them back with “suppress ego?”

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