Is data valueable?

“How can data be so valuable?” That is the provocative question a friend asked me a few days ago. We had a good discussion about life, work and other fun things. My friend is an artist, by the way. Not a business person. And that created a bit of a challenge: how do you best explain the value of data in layman’s terms? Well, I ended up telling him a story that happened to me a few days before.

THE FREQUENT TRAVELER

It had been a long week. Four cities in four countries in four days. It was right around 11pm when I got to the hotel. All I wanted to do was sleep and forget everything about that day. It had been a tough day. Endless meetings, missed flights. In other words: I felt like reaching for the reset button. But things changed. At the hotel, I was greeted by a friendly front desk manager. He commented on the fact that I must be pretty tired (obvious observation – it was 11pm). We had a quick chat, he wanted to know where I came from. And without me really noticing he mentioned that he really admired frequent travelers like myself (huh? How did he know). He continued: “We are thankful for people like you. It is because of you that we are in business.” “Wow“, he said. “You must be one of our top customers. The are very few people that check in here that have spent as many nights in our hotels as you have.” He then gave me a nice upgrade to a fantastic room with great views. How do you think that made me feel? Well, it made a big difference and that is why I am so loyal to this hotel chain. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me.

THE DATA IMPACT

Even a simple number can tell a great story

You are probably wondering where the connection with data is? Very simple: the hotel chain obviously has the data about all my stays in their systems. A very simple number. Not some fancy set of variances or complex data. Just a simple double-digit number for any given year. A simple SELECT sum(NIGHTS) from CUSTOMERS; Nothing more. But this business encourages its employees to look up this number and to actively use it to make their customers feel appreciated and special. That’s what the front-desk manager did. And guess what: This simple number allows the hotel to communicate three important things:

– We do know how much time and money YOU spend here
– We appreciate YOUR business
– We care about YOU

DATA IS THE NEW OIL

If a simple double-digit number can empower an employee to make a difference, think about the potential that lies in your ocean of data. What could you do with a few simple numbers to turn your customers and business partners into true fans? I believe we have a huge opportunity on our hands. As we continue to collect more and more valuable data we need to get started and continue to refine this data into real insights. And we have only scratched the surface so far. Why don’t you take a few minutes today to think about a single thing you could do with your data? Are there unexplored opportunities? What could you do today to make a difference?