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Knowledge is Power (GfK and Context World at the 2016 Target Open Day)

Posted On - 02/09/2016 07:47:43

Many get credited with saying Knowledge is Power. Imam Ali is cited as the originator way back in the 1st CenturyMany get credited with saying "Knowledge is Power". Imam Ali is cited as the originator way back in the 1st Century. He was talking about how knowledge can command obedience. How it can make people obey and follow. Even be admired and revered after their death.

Clearly knowing stuff was part-and-parcel of being a respected leader back then.

Knowledge is just as important in business today. Those businesses that know more, lead. This isn't just technical know-how, the real advantage comes from knowing how to combine and use customer, marketing and sales information. Question is, what do you need to know?

How big?

In 1985 the Harvard Business Review spoke prophetically about the Information Revolution. About how it would transform everything in business. And while this was a few years off the dawning of the web, what's amazing is they didn't even mention email!

Little did they know what was about to happen. About the truly gigantic quantities of data that would start being produced – today it's measured in zettabytes - ZB. That's a thousand million terabytes. Or one with 21 zeros after it. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Quite a lot!

Really very big

There are two things about estimates. First, they're just that: a guess. Second, they vary depending on how you work them out. Whatever, one thing's for sure - the amount of data is only going up. And it's going up frighteningly fast. More data has been produced in the last two years (as of Sept 2015) than in the previous history of the human race. And it's predicted by 2020 some 1.7 MB of data will being produced every second for every human being on the planet.

By 2020 it's reckoned they'll be a total of 44 zettabytes of data. Absolutely vast - too much to comprehend. But get this. A mere fraction – less than ½% - of it will have been analysed and made sense of. Surely that's one big missed opportunity.

Especially when big data analytics is credited with things like identifying gender specific tests for heart disease through to why it makes sense for superstores to stock strawberry pop-tarts before hurricanes. [Yep, big data found this].


All this talk about big data may be interesting. But what does it mean for you? Frankly, little. But it's not a complete distraction. We haven't been wasting your time.

We started with the simple fact knowledge is power. So what does that mean for you? Well, since "the purpose of business is to create and keep customers" [Drucker] let's start there. How much do you know about them? How much do you know about what you sell to them? By "know" we mean have information in a database so you can analyse it. Got one of those have you?

Besides stuff like name, phone, email and address, the real basics of running consumer marketing involve knowing gender and age. For businesses it would be business type and #'s employees. With these things you can start segmenting customers and doing useful things.

For example, take age. Think about it: it's probably easier to sell security products to the elderly - they're more interested in them. It's probably much easier to sell gaming to the under 50's - they're more interested. Or what about postcode - it's a proxy for affluence. It'll be easier to sell high end laptops and iPad repairs to certain postcodes than others. And if you're selling stuff off cheap...

With businesses, the sophistication of IT use relates to type and #'s employees. An engineering business is going to want very different things from a florist. A "man-in-a-van" from a business employing 50+ people. Can you see how this works?

Customer data can help you sell more. And it can help you save money while you do it - you don't waste time and money promoting stuff to people unlikely to buy. So knowledge is power.

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