7 Ways Data-Driven Decision Making Has Made Life Better

Posted by Patrick Kilgore on 6/6/16 12:14 PM

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Data has become one of the biggest game changers across industries as varied as education, financial security, and agriculture. Some days it seems like everywhere you turn someone’s talking about big data.

While the rise of data-driven marketing may influence your life and job in a direct and obvious way, you’re likely experiencing the benefits of data-driven decision making in a number of other ways as well. Here are a few industries where data-driven decision making is taking hold and working to make all our lives a little better.

  1. Recommendations

When you’re settling in for the night, trying to decide what movie to watch as you wind down, how do you make your decision? For many people, the answer now lies in the algorithm Netflix created to help offer up surprisingly accurate recommendations to subscribers. These suggestions are based on a combination of data collected from a particular account about the movies viewed and rated in the past and the massive amounts of data that Netflix has on what other people have done in a similar fashion.

A few years ago, Netflix shared that 75% of viewer activity on the website is driven by these recommendations. If you subscribe to Netflix, your viewing choices are likely largely determined by data.

Many other websites do something similar – Amazon offers up recommendations for all sorts of products based on your past buying history, Google tailors its results for searches based on their data on your past browsing activity, YouTube automatically queues up a list of videos you might like based on the one you’re watching at any given moment – but Netflix is the gold standard for these types of recommendations.

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  1. Financial Security

You know how sometimes your credit card company contacts you because a charge looks like it may be suspicious? If you wonder how they figure out what charges to consider abnormal, the answer is big data.

Financial institutions collect information on your past buying behavior, the buying behavior of people like you, and the typical moves of scammers who steal credit card information. Bring all that together and the data can be leveraged to provide early warning signs for identity fraud.

That helps protect both them and you. If they can recognize a thief immediately, the cybercriminal won’t have the chance to do much spending before they cancel the card and issue you a new one. And you don’t have to deal with the stress that comes with identity theft.

  1. Wearables Culture

Anyone that’s ever suffered from a mystery illness knows the frustration of not being able to figure out what’s causing it. Health issues are often confusing and difficult to pin down, but part of the solution may come with the growth in the wearables sector.

Wearables can help people track just how active they are in a day, along with their heart activity, glucose levels – many of the factors you used to have to meet with a doctor to learn. And people can supplement the data the device tracks with notes on diet, calorie intake, and anything else they feel the need to track.

The end result is a better understanding of what’s going on with our bodies. As wearables grow in popularity and sophistication, they may begin to take an ever more prominent role in helping doctors diagnose patients more quickly and effectively helping consumers make more informed decisions about their health.

  1. Crime and Traffic Safety

How do police officers identify where to patrol? Now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched their Data-Driven Approaches to the Crime and Safety (DDACS) initiative, it’s wherever the data tells them the highest risk is.

Combining data on traffic incidents and crime, they found there was a correlation between the two, which allowed them to identify “hot spots” where more crime and accidents are likely to occur. In order to help prevent them before they happen, more police are dispatched to the areas that designated as hot spots to proactively patrol.

The result in areas where DDACS has been implemented is a decrease in a wide array of crimes including robberies, vandalism, and theft. Without your ever knowing about it, data’s been making you safer.

  1. Agriculture

Data-driven farming is in its early stages, but it stands to make a big impact on the agricultural industry. The idea is that farmers can take and combine data from a number of sources, like sensors on their own farms and weather tracking technology, to optimize the farming process.

If you understand the best possible conditions for growing a particular crop – what the soil makeup should look like, exactly how much water it needs, etc – and you have the technology to track each of the factors that affect those conditions, you can better respond to them.

If the data shows that there’s rain coming, for instance, your system can automatically stop or reduce the irrigation. The result is better crop yields with fewer resources wasted.

  1. Urban Design

The way cities are designed has a big influence on the experiences of the people living in them. An extremely wide range of factors can come into play in trying to figure out the best approach to a particular neighborhood’s design: the capacity of the roads, the length of time traffic lights last, the width of sidewalks, the size of buildings, the layout of those buildings – the list can go on and on.

Urban designers do their best to account for all possible factors, but with access to data from a number of different sources, they’re able to do a better job of predicting different outcomes for designs than ever before. That means they’ll be able to guess in advance if, say, the layout of a building will keep people from interacting in ways that could be useful for business purposes or social health.

And it can tell them what’s happening right now that could be designed better. One design project discovered that by combining the data from a variety of sources, people rarely entered a particular school’s main building through the front door. Recognizing that helped them better approach their design project based on how people actually behave, so they could make sure the spaces around the building were better suited for the flow of people.

  1. Marketing

Finally, we get to the example you’re probably already familiar with. Data-driven marketing is reshaping how the marketing industry works. And it’s doing so on multiple levels.

Not only can marketing analytics be used to help you track how well your marketing campaigns are performing, but marketing data can allow you to better personalize the experience your consumers have. That means each of us can potentially enjoy better, more targeted marketing on the consumer end as well as reap the results of it in our marketing roles.

Amongst other benefits, data-driven marketing:

  1. Helps you start to see the ROI of your marketing efforts
  2. Gives you the information you need to optimize your marketing plan for better results
  3. Enables you to understand your customers better so you can craft your marketing campaigns to more successfully appeal to them
  4. Shows you the journey your customers are actually taking
  5. Can help you calculate your pipeline velocity so you can make an educated guess on how much money will come in each quarter
  6. Will show the next move you should take for the best results
  7. And will help you make more accurate predictions about your future marketing results.

All that adds up to you bringing your company more success, which is just one more way data can make your life better.

Data’s not only making you safer, helping you pick better movies, and helping you track your health with more success – it’s also making you better at your job. Or it could be. If you’re not yet practicing data-driven marketing at your company, we’d be happy to help you get started with it. All it takes is a quick demo to start the process to better, data-driven results.

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