Wednesday Buzz: Big Data Can’t Handle What We Do

Perhaps "big data" doesn't work for associations because it's not advanced enough to be useful on a micro scale. Also: why a modest name change can help refresh your direction.

The commentary around “big data” goes something like this in the association space: We keep hearing this term, and it keeps coming up as something we need to worry about. Eventually, someone chimes in and says you shouldn’t worry about it, because your organization doesn’t actually have any big data—and you’re not big enough to need it.

But Smooth the Path‘s Amanda Kaiser thinks about it differently: Perhaps associations don’t have any useful big data because, for all its complexity, big data is too limited at this juncture to actually pick up anything that can be applied at the micro level. Large organizations need the scale of such data to understand their audience, because they aren’t able to grasp the soft communications smaller organizations have with their customers. But there’s a big downside for players like Netflix and Amazon: All-important context is lost along the way.

“For associations, it is about knowing what life cycle your members [are] at, what their career goals are, and what their biggest challenges are,” she notes on the Association Marketer blog. “Contextual information is knowing not only that sales are up but also why they are up. It is the contextual information that will help us attract members and engage members, not just systems data itself.”

For all the data we don’t have, at least we have that.

Subtle, But Effective

Stuffy old names can hold you back, so why not shake the dust off those dated monikers?

That’s what Google was thinking when it ditched its old “Google for Enterprise” wording for something a little hipper: “Google for Work.” It’s a subtle name change, but it has a way of refreshing a mindset.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, in a blog post, explains it this way: “We never set out to create a traditional ‘enterprise’ business—we wanted to create a new way of doing work. So the time has come for our name to catch up with our ambition.”

The result? Google plays down the stuffiness the word “enterprise” implies and shoots for a wider audience. Considering that the sector is Google’s second-biggest money-maker, according to Business Insider, that subtlety might just be worth it.

Other Good reads

“If search engine optimization brings the wrong customers to the wrong pages, then everybody loses.” Over at CMSWire, content management pro Gerry McGovern argues the value of SEO that drives the right kinds of customers.

“What would make this idea fail?” If that sounds like a counterproductive question, the Portage Group’s Carol-Anne Moutinho begs to differ. She says “going to the Dark Side” can help you get out of a creative rut.

Principled Innovation’s Jeff De Cagna, FASAE, hops on the LinkedIn train, making a good talker of a point: Serving on a board isn’t about you.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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