Andy Capaloff
March 3, 2014

Here are Questions to Broaden the Data Analytics Discussion

In my article originally titled “To Break free of the Silo, look outside of it”, I ended by saying:

”Context broadens the audience but questions from outsiders broaden the discussion.”

This is the first post in a series intended to do just that, where I will pick a subject and ask what I hope are conversation broadening questions.  Where better to start than one of my two favourite subjects (the other being Questions) – Data!


Disclaimer #1: These questions are not aimed at the writers of the articles or the owners of the blogs.  The main aims are to bring important subject matter to the attention of those who have not yet seen it, to stimulate discussion and further questions from other outsiders and hopefully, to act as a catalyst for new insights from the people who know the subject matter best.

Disclaimer #2: My field is the Financial Sector.  I am a Business Analyst and QA Analyst/Tester.  I don’t profess to being an expert in Social Media Marketing but I do know how to ask questions, interview people and find both problems and solutions.  I ask these questions wanting to hear some answers, not knowing them.


1. This article, ‘What Data-Obsessed Marketers Don’t Understand’, by Jake Sorofman and Andrew Frank of Gartner, for Harvard Business Review, sets out a framework for working with Data, intended to introduce a Human element into the work of numbers-centric Data professionals.

This is a first-rate article with some excellent ideas, and as with all of the best articles, it clearly provokes readers to do some of their own thinking.  The aspect that immediately came to my mind for me to throw into the arena is this:

The film Moneyball was invoked here as an example of where numbers may work but the approach taken has its limits.  Continuing the sporting theme, people can be drawn to numbers that prove a point while skewing the truth of what non-participants actually witnessed.  A team may have the lion’s share of possession and three times as many passes, while accomplishing precious little, whereas the team apparently on the receiving end is actually controlling the events.  The raw numbers that prove this may be minimal, beyond what some might point to as a fortunate victory considering the story told by the statistics.

How does one avoid the pitfalls of relying heavily on Data that supports one conclusion, while the truth of results may paint an entirely different picture?

2. This one’s a doozy!  The article New Research: Most Companies Do Not Have the Talent to Leverage Marketing Analytics by Tom Webster for Jay Baer’s Convince&Convert blog, paints an overall rosy picture of the future of Marketing Analytics spending, while showing quite clearly that there is a talent gap (read as ‘Opportunity’ by the more enterprising types) getting in the way of companies making the most of their Data and their spend on it.

My question here is really in a different direction altogether.  Data Analytics, the new best friend of all marketers, relies on Data that is gathered from various Social sites.  In raw form, according to how much Data is being accessed/how much is being paid for, it can be used to paint a picture of Social Engagement while highlighting areas of success, dead ends and everything in between.

Is one of the main problems in this area that Social Media Marketing is in itself so new, that most are still finding their way in that?  We’ve now introduced lots of scary numbers into an arena that has yet to reach anything close to maturity itself.

I wonder how many people who are considering how much they might spend on Data Analytics are open to being led in new directions by their findings? 

Could it be that as the field Big Data Analytics is seeking to influence is so relatively new, accepting change will be easier?

I realise the first of these questions would seem to have an obvious answer, but there is evidence aplenty that many have yet to embrace newer marketing methods in the first place.  I wonder if, armed with the evidence of numbers, many companies that have merely dipped their toes in the waters until now, might become more willing to open up the purse strings and enter more forcefully into Social Media Marketing?


The image used here was originally posted in this excellent article:


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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.