It’s cool and in demand to be a “data geek”
I love to “be the data,” but only in small bytes. I’d much rather just make stuff up than have to prove it with data. Today, I’m pleased to introduce Lisa Pratt as your blogger of the day. This is the first of a series from Lisa on data analytics, but it’s not all geeky. She’s a storyteller, too! Lisa is the self-described “Senior Director of Marketing Measurement and Analytics at Kronos, responsible for delivering insight into how our strategies translate into brand awareness, quality leads, and revenue across our key industry and customer segments. Lisa has been at Kronos for 4½ years, but her entire 20+ year career has been spent analyzing large amounts of marketing and customer data to drive better business decisions.”
I have always been a math person. I steadfastly maintained throughout my days in high school, college and graduate school (twice) that I would rather do three hours of math problems than one hour of reading or writing. And I still feel that way. I look around my world and see all sorts of opportunities to leverage, what I call, personal analytics. For example, when an auction at my children’s elementary school fell short of its fundraising target, others just blamed the economy and hoped things would improve next year. I took a different approach and suggested that we analyze the items, where they appeared in the auction, and the prices that they sold for relative to their market value so the next year we could optimize the mix of physical goods, services, and experiences, live vs silent items, opening bid amounts, etc. Armed with this knowledge, we would get as much as we could within the economic conditions we were dealt. Others didn’t have the energy for this sort of post-mortem and if you have ever hosted a charity auction, you can understand their fatigue. But I thought that if we were going to put in all that effort to maximize our revenue, why not use any data we have to influence the outcome?
Since I look at all situations as solvable with some data, good analysis, and a solid story, it seemed only natural for me to go into marketing analysis as a career. What I didn’t realize as I was totally happy being knee deep is a stew of numbers, was that being a data geek was not cool. And, while Marketing was cool, marketing analysis was not. It ranked among actuarial and accounting on the hierarchy of being able to talk about your job at a party, even if you are frequently mistaken for Gisele, as I am ;-). At a previous employer, on a conference call someone referred to me and my team of analysts as “the monkey’s in the back room.” I quickly took my phone off mute and reminded them that I was on the phone. I did get a nice apology later, but it still stung. What I soon found out is that analysts and statisticians were just a little ahead of our time and we would get the last laugh once the transformation of business into a culture of numbers and measurement happened. Now, companies are realizing the power of their data so long as they have technology and people to unlock it’s meaning. And, guess what – they are listening intently to those same monkeys.
To whomever coined and publicized the term Big Data and Analytics, thank you! No one is happier about the lipstick that has been slapped on data analysis than data analysts and statisticians, like me. Suddenly, it is both cool and in demand to be a data geek.