By Sergio Tapia, data and analytics consultant, Zintel

Firstly, let’s consider data from a different perspective…

You open your favourite novel and you’re confronted with a bland page covered in small black print, possibly e-ink, on a white or off-white background.  Every page is monochrome, dull and boring.

However, as you begin to read each word, in the correct order and with inward expression, the story comes to life. There exists a clear structure in the words that evokes the underlying story into your cognisance.

The same can be said for that boring looking spread sheet minimised in another window of your screen.  Within it exists structure, latent or apparent, from which a story unfolds.  The story may be of your customers, business, marketing campaign, contact centre, or whatever the case may be.

The story and its underlying data are valuable in understanding and growing your business, but the value is derived from the point of view of the reader. For a marketer, the data may have value in a fiscal sense, due to the sales revenue uplift from a targeted campaign, or it may have branding value when used in a successful social awareness campaign.

Misunderstood data can be as useful as random words on a page. But, when the story emerges from the data, the potential for added value becomes clear.

How it works

So how do we arrive at the story?  First, we need to uncover the structure.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

In many cases where the structure is relatively apparent, an automated or manual report will do.

However, in cases where the data is both complex and voluminous, the structure may be hidden and require statistical analysis or a more algorithmic approach via data mining.

To illustrate how structure assists in telling the story, which in turn leads to understanding the value of your data, consider one of the most powerful assets of your business – your phone.

Imagine you’re marketing a product across three different channels, with a mixture of digital and traditional advertising.  You may be utilising an online ad, a billboard ad and a third on TV.

Now suppose you have implemented call tracking, which links a unique inbound number with each advertisement, then the incoming lead or sales call can be tracked back to its point of origin (i.e. the online ad, billboard, or TV commercial).

The structure

Your phones begin to ring while in the background your call tracking partner is collecting the data and structuring it for you into automated reports. The reports summarise the detail of each call from potential customers in response to your ads. They show, amongst other details; the ad that generated the calls, the geographic location of the caller, the time of day the call came in and the duration of the call.

The ROI Story

What is the value of the data to you when it tells you that 75% of callers responded to the online ad between the hours of 1:30pm and 3:30pm, with a spike on Wednesday and Thursday, and that these callers were predominantly city dwellers? You also find that the TV commercial had the shortest call durations whilst the outdoor ad experienced the longest.

The story that emerges from the data will enable a deeper understanding of the customer base, improved budget allocation, and the necessary knowledge to develop more effective campaigns to target those potential customers that will yield a greater return on investment…the value of the data? Priceless – well, at least tangible.

On its own, data may seem opaque, but understanding its underlying structure will reveal its story.  It’s through this story, and your perspective, that you can begin to understand the value of your data to your business.