According to Harvard Business Review “consider this figure: $136 billion per year. That’s the research firm IDC’s estimate of the size of the big data market, worldwide, in 2016. This figure should surprise no one with an interest in big data. But here’s another number: $3.1 trillion, IBM’s estimate of the yearly cost of poor quality data, in the US alone, in 2016. While most people who deal in data every day know that bad data is costly, this figure stuns”.
The reason bad data costs so much is that decision makers, managers, knowledge workers, data scientists, and others must accommodate it in their everyday work. And doing so is both time-consuming and expensive. The data they need has plenty of errors, and in the face of a critical deadline, many individuals simply make corrections themselves to complete the task at hand. They don’t think to reach out to the data creator, explain their requirements, and help eliminate root causes.
Over time I have witnessed brands spend a lot of time and money on trying to understand what the data is telling them while they ignore the simple brand promise promise to their customers.
Not too long ago I was doing some work for a company that makes ice cream sandwiches and sells them at all the top grocery chains within the US. They were concerned because retail turns were decreasing and inventory was building. The first thing I did was go to a few local grocery stores and purchase some of their products. I found the ice cream had ice crystals, the wafers were soggy and tasteless and some of the wrapping stuck to the ice cream. When I reported the results to the product manager and her manager they seemed to be shocked. “When was the last time you approached your product as a customer” I asked to which there was silence. The issue was that the brand promise was broken and customers were not coming back.
Where were these results in all the data they had? Nowhere. They had to work on the issue of packing their product from the factory to the consumer. The problem seemed to be that deliveries to grocers were being made to distribution centers, which in turn could leave the product on the loading dock before refreezing them on the way to the store. They had to consider delivery direct to stores to maintain product quality. Yes, it would cost more, but as the CEO said “our product is our company and we can’t allow retailers to allow our products to fail with our customers”.
Marketing, at its basic core, is about a bond between you and your customer. It’s not about a slogan, a website or TV ads. Too many brands don’t become customers of their own product and thus cannot possibly understand why customers are leaving them in droves.
Before you spend millions of dollars on data and have months of meetings to share the data within the company you should always ensure that your brand promise is being met. It’s marketing 101 and it should be an easy question to ask, but too many brands just are too busy analyzing data to see what’s right in front of them.