“Everything starts out looking like a toy” (No. 11)
Observations at the intersection of data and systems by Greg Meyer
This week’s toy: the ability to bring Tetris to your everyday calendar. One question: how many levels to solve before seeing today’s agenda? Edition No. 11 of this newsletter is here - it’s September 12, 2020.
The Big Idea
Data - in isolation - doesn’t have that much impact. The true value of improving data operations coincides with process and data improvement in connected systems.
The ultimate goal: connect the business. Here’s one frame to think about that idea.
The world of connected systems
Once upon a time, we sold simply by asking people to buy a product. We’d show up at their office, or call them with a key value proposition, or email them with an offer so awesome they couldn’t help but to say yes. Today’s selling environment demands that we produce personalized content to the potential buyer long before we enter the formal sales cycle. And buyers have changed too. They expect SMB, mid-market, and enterprise companies to be as slick as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google when they sell or share content.
As an operations leader or a seller, the challenge is clear: how do we best use our data to engage prospects, build expansion for existing customers, or simply make our go-to market engine more consistent? One way to go forward is to focus on the process of adding, quantifying, and managing the data we have.
Forms, Syndication, and Data Ingestion
How does data enter your organization? It’s likely some combination of landing page form fills, webinar or event submissions, and enrichment systems that take an email or a domain name and research information from a database. This input point is key to make sure junk gets remediated or stays out of your marketing and sales automation systems.
Visit your own landing pages and webinars today and attempt to enter bad data. What happens? Does the landing page catch personal email and ask you to enter a work email? Are you able to enter an incompatible combination of city and state data? The output of this process is a bug 🐜 to solve in the ingest process. When you reach the Minimum Viable Record that can be handled in the sales process, you’ll be farther along than before.
What’s in the system now?
When you pick up rocks you’ll find more bugs 🐜. An example of this might be a missing address in an account, an inconsistency in the capitalization of names in your database, or the lack of a “friendly name” vs a legal name of a company. Whatever the contents of your definition, it’s important to have one. Defining the Minimum Viable Record for the leads, contacts, opportunities, and accounts in your system will highlight the problem areas. But remember, not all problems need to be addressed equally.
You will add value for your organization by finding bottlenecks and doing what-if scenarios based on data to discover the highest value data problems to fix. If you find that a combination of technologies used by an account is highly correlated to a sale, it’s time to up your technographic game. When you discover that newly installed executive leaders buy more products, invest in job change alerts. If accounts expand more because you have a better knowledge of the organization, map org charts. You get the idea ;)
Measure what you want to manage
If you try to measure everything you’ll fail. Not because you’ll fail to measure, but because you’ll fail to manage. The first task of connecting the business is to identify the key metrics used to define success. Elementary, right? Focus on the money. But also focus on the ways that the business fails to make money. This is another way of identifying bottlenecks. For example, if the definition of a target account is different from the marketing perspective and the sales team, you will fail to be aligned.
The key metrics of the business are the place to focus. Do this by asking the tough questions:
How do we find our best customers?
If we wanted to find more, how would we do that? (And measure it)
When we lose, are we losing to “no other action” or to a competitor?
Are their problems we encounter over and over during the middle of the funnel?
Then pick one or two problems to work on at a time. Define the problem (inputs, outputs, range, and find key metrics to manage.
What’s the takeaway? Defining data and governance of that data in your organization will help you get better and managing the metrics that drive business success. It may sound trite, and it’s true.
We’d like to know …
Vacation time feels weird this year when “vacation” means “being in the same place as you were yesterday.” Have you taken any time off since the Pandemic started this spring?
Click the tweet to vote.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my eye.
1/ Machine models don’t have context - Simply copying patterns from one area works for things like texture mapping onto objects, and produces some weird side effects given exceptions, like “cars don’t drive there.”
2/ The Art of Sandwich Making - Here’s how to make a perfect Peanut butter and Banana Sandwich. The existence of this article shows how human creativity morphs during a pandemic.
3/ You can buy almost anything at Costco - this is what one year of food looks like. Now, thinking about where I would store all of this or whether to build a storage shelter to hold my storage food.
On the Reading List
The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. This workplace fable is cheezy (don’t read it for the plot) but excellent at showing the process of identifying and resolving bottlenecks in the supply chain process.
The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin. Book 2 of the “Broken Earth” series, which seems appropriate at today’s AQI of 220.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
I’m grateful you read this far. Thank you.
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The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon