Data Socialization — Hello, My Name is DATA

Earlier this week at a pitch presentation for an amazing potential project, a thoughtful audience member asked me, “Dashboards and being able to see my data sound great, but what will I do with this data?”

It reminded me of a talk I gave last year when a frowny audience member raised her hand and said, “Data, data, data, all I hear about is data — what good is it?”

Yes — what will you do with it? And what good is it?

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Recently, Bernard Marr argued here that we’ve seen big changes lately in how we collect data and the quantity of data we access. But, in turn, we need to change how we consume and act on this data. Data socialization matters, and at the end of the day, is really all that matters. Why collect / store / clean / analyze / report on data that no one sees or uses to make decisions?

You wouldn’t get all dressed up and ready to share your best self with your friends and loved ones only to sit at home alone with the door shut, would you? That’s what we’re doing when we don’t socialize our data. Yet, as us introverts know, socializing can sometimes be hard.

In a for-profit setting, good data socialization can mark the difference between everyone from line staff to the c-suite understanding sales, supply, and market metrics vs. no one knowing company metrics. For non-profit and social sector organizations, good data socialization means ensuring you don’t just understand the impact metrics of your mission internally, but that your important external audience (ahem, funders) hears your data trumpet call as well. For marketing agencies, who are better than all of us at messaging, it’s about pulling out the most meaningful nuggets of data and reporting them back to clients in an understandable and actionable way. And for civil litigators — those with likely the most riding on data socialization — it’s about making your side’s case with data, and linking the persuasive data findings to your case.

All of this — data storytelling, reporting, messaging, and strategy are all a part of data socialization.

So, what will you do with your data? You’ll listen to it. You’ll ponder it. You’ll think on it. You’ll explore it. And the findings that emerge will guide your decision-making, whether it’s related to producing more profitable and better widgets, improving your social program, better informing your client, or winning a case with statistical evidence.

And what good is it? Data is only as good as far as it is socialized. Don’t let it sit in a corner alone.