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Understanding data part 1: Acquisition

Understanding data part 1: Acquisition

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

Whether you’re a small organisation, independent or part of a large organisation, you are not only creating some of that data, but you will be acquiring and probably own a bit as well.

Recently I spoke at MagFest2015 (read our summary of the day) on the use of data in publishing and over the next month I’ll be sharing aspects of the presentation on the Stripe blog. The three areas covered are:

  • Acquisition – ways to collect and collate your data
  • Appearance – what different types of data look like and which bits are useful
  • Application – how to use the data ongoing

Acquisition
The amount of data can be paralysing for many, knowing what you want to acquire and how to go about acquiring it is hard – and believe it or not, for many people, the next question is “Why should I bother?” The benefits can be vast – data can:

  • Provide feedback that you don’t get directly from users via support channels (people always talk about things they don’t like or that are broken – but don’t often talk about things that are working well!)
  • Raise questions that you may not have considered about how people use your content/channels
  • Enable you to create the content wanted by your audience, as opposed to what you think they want
  • Overlay with any target audience data for granular targeting and ad placements
  • Give you the insight to apply a strategic approach to your short and long-term planning

Ultimately, all of the above helps to deliver a stronger return on investment.

Reeling it in – some sources to begin gathering data:

Be proactive – there are ways you can go and search for data not directly through your channels, utilising tools and sites (free and paid) such as:

There are several reasons that keep people from taking advantage of the data, such as knowing what’s useful, set-up, implementation, understanding what the data means, pulling useful insights, resource and time. There’s the excuses out of the way and it’s never too later to a) get started or b) get it set up so that you are tracking and reporting properly. As the saying goes, we never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over.

Remember that just because you didn’t do it from day one or haven’t been tracking doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start (and if you want some help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!)