TruthAboutData has value for all, not just marketing

I got into an interesting conversation with Mike Cassidy, the journalist who wrote about our TruthAboutData campaign for the Huffington Post technology blog.

I live in London and he lives in California. It was late in the evening my time when I finally got hold of him on the phone.

We’d met a couple of weeks earlier at the NRF Shop.org event in Philaldelphia and I’d shown him the latest edition of Hot Topics, a magazine for tech leaders that featured the Qubit CEO Graham Cooke on the front cover.

Graham was talking about the TruthAboutData campaign in the magazine article; Mike Cassidy was interested and asked me to call and follow up with him on my return home.

Mike and I clicked pretty quickly. We’re both former journalists. He had been a former business journalist for the San Jose Mercury News where he covered Silicon Valley. I’d been a business correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph in London and had spent three years as editor of Marketing Week magazine.

Mike had a fascinating take on TruthAboutData. He wanted to cover it and was interested in interviewing some of our Data Heroes as well as taking some of our short online video data lessons.

However, as he implies in his Huffington Post article, he was intrigued as to why we are only concerned with driving data literacy in marketing.

His argument was understandable. With the way the world is going, the way technology is evolving and the way our demands and expectations of high-level, super-personalized experiences are increasing, every aspect of our lives is awash with data.

Good, clean and relevant data sits right at the front end of any project, task or idea you may embark on - whether you’re a marketer or not. And our power to use data lies with the understanding, the visualization and the interpretation of that data.

Put simply, if you want to be empowered, to understand the world, you need to be able to read graphs and charts.

I agree with him. I read English literature and politics at university. My education focused on the arts and humanities. I haven’t studied mathematics since I was 16. However, I’m going to heavily encourage my two year old son and baby daughter to love numbers and data.

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The world is digital now and in a sense, being a consumer in that digital environment is easy. With touchscreens, swipe capability and so on, little understanding of data is necessary.

To go further than that though; to build, invent, create or sell any kind of product or service requires you to have a level of data literacy and an understanding of analytics. The same applies to communicating any kind of message or idea.

Mike and I discussed how the school curriculum of the future won’t look like the ones we studied. The skill of memorizing chunks of knowledge have little value in the Google era. We’ll always need to understand how to apply knowledge, negotiate, form an argument and relate to others but after those skills you’d expect modern schools to be far more focused on coding and maths.

One of Mike’s contentions was that the TruthAboutData campaign should be trying to recruit partner universities to help better prepare students for the digital world.

I was sympathetic to the view but for now, while we continue to grow what is a new campaign, we’re focusing heavily on marketers. Why? Because customer experience is where we feel TruthAboutData can make the quickest and largest impact.

There’s a hugely untapped need for businesses to really understand and keep up with their fast-evolving customers. And within those businesses, that customer understanding has to start with marketers - few of whom grew up understanding how to read and apply data.

With TruthAboutData, we’re here to help.