Big Data is getting bigger. According to research firm IDC, big data services and technologies will grow at a compounded rate of 27%, exceeding $32 billion by 2017. The greatest challenge is knowing how to make it work for us in a law firm - how can we learn from it, affect change with it, make progress and grow revenue?
Data pours in from new sources and channels every day. Sifting through all the signals and noise is an enormous daily undertaking, and extracting insights (the proverbial needle in a haystack) that drive smart business decisions is more difficult by the hour.
Tom Fishburne's Marketoon shows how big data can "prove" almost any conclusion. Therein lies one of the greatest dangers: when the data set is so huge and your goals aren't clear, the data can tell you almost anything you want it to.
I like "lean data" better. The Guardian says:
“The dirty secret of big data is that no algorithm can tell you what’s significant, or what it means. Data then becomes another problem for you to solve. A lean data approach suggests starting with questions relevant to your business and finding ways to answer them through data, rather than sifting through countless data sets."
Here are a few lean data opportunities for marketing and business development teams in law firms:
- Google Analytics and other tracking of your website assets - what content drives longer visits to your site (e.g., video)
- SEO statistics – how are you doing in your signature areas? How are you doing on trending topics? Be specific in your improvement goals
- Experience databases filled with intelligence about expertise, clients, qualifications
- Litigation and corporate databases that reveal who else is representing your clients and for what (then do something about it)
- Proposal win/loss analyses - why did you win? Lose? To whom and why?
- Client loyalty interviews - use quantitative and qualitative questions
- Financial data about your top 50 clients, then next 200 clients - what do the last 5 years tell you? Discover the stories in your numbers
- Process improvement analysis – where can you streamline what you are doing, save time and get better results?
- Track initiatives that are truly paying off and eliminate the ones that aren't
On the MediaPost Agency Daily (MAD) blog, Jason Harrison shares advice for marketers who want to be more effective in their data management in Making Sense of all that Data. Jason is the Founding CEO of Gain Theory.
- Ask Answerable Questions - Don’t aim for something unattainable – start small and build small victories into something large. Don’t let the objective be “deal with Big Data” or something vague and unending.
With this approach, you’ll build capability, credibility and momentum, all while delivering better results. Then you will be better prepared to answer the big, ugly, complex questions your organization has been asking, like: What is the long-term impact of our marketing on share price?
- Free Your Data - Figure out where your key data lives and liberate it. Take the opportunity to collaborate across the organization to unite seemingly disparate organizations and their data to see what connections can be made and what new questions can be asked and/or answered. Build relationships with the stakeholders who control those data sets by creating a common set of goals right off the bat. In the end, you’ll need their partnership to build something meaningful and lasting.
- Select Smart Partners - Work with a partner who will enable you to make progress quickly. Your partner should be your guide through the mountain, helping you navigate the data in jargon-free terms, simplifying the process while providing actionable options to deliver results quickly. In delivering small, tangible results, you will be able to effectively manage internal stakeholder expectations.
- Create SMART Data Goals - Just as you would set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals for your staff, set similar goals for your data. This approach helps you avoid becoming swamped by your data and instead tackle it in small chunks. This means setting extremely pointed, quantifiable goals for your team that are clear, concise and understood by all. Then continue to check in on how you’re doing against them along the way to ensure you’re on track and not veering from your intended outcomes.