May 15, 2013 smz-blog

Is Big Data driven by small nuisances?


Marketers today are obsessed with Big Data. We love talking about the analytic horsepower needed to crunch all of the data. But how much of the data is horse@#$%?

In the past two weeks, I have received seven surveys to assess my “experience” with various brands. The issue is each survey takes LONGER to complete than my actual interaction with the brand.

Example #1: I called a service that provides non-terrestrial radio (the one named after a beloved Harry Potter character) to ask a single billing question. That particular call lasted no more than two minutes. Then I received an email with the survey about my call handling. It went on for pages and I had to answer questions that didn’t offer a N/A. How high quality is that data?

Example #2: A certain major airline emailed me about my flight experience on Sunday evening. The problem was that the flier was my daughter. And the second problem was that the survey email arrived BEFORE the flight landed, as the flight was delayed. I forwarded the link to my daughter to complete the survey. I think she had a thing or two to add to the airline’s data.

Example #3: I promise this is the last example. I took my car into service for a manufacturer’s recall. The post survey was as-to-be-expected. Unexpected was the email from the service manager that arrived the same day as the survey email. An email that asked me to give all 5s or 10s (I forget the scale). What type of data integrity is this brand dealing with if the respondent is constantly being prompted to provide “good scores”?

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings observed, “In God we trust; all others, bring data.” For the love of God, please gather good data. I’m feeling that the same tools that make it easy to collect data make it easy to collect faulty, unnecessary or simply bad data. And the machines crunching good data can’t tell the difference.

Jamie Michelson, President

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