Get Ready for the Great Data Gold Rush of 2014

When James W. Marshall found gold in Coloma, California on January 24, 1848, little did he know he would be launching a grand event later referred to as the California Gold Rush, inspiring some 300,000 people from around the globe to flock to California with big dreams of pocket-fattening wealth.

Now it seems that data is our generation’s most precious stone. No doubt, big data is a big deal. And it’s getting big buzz. You can’t scroll three posts down a social media news feed without seeing something about data.

I imagine that some event organizers or venue managers have a hard time knowing how to equip themselves for their personal data journey. So, before rushing in, here are a few simple suggestions on how to start mining for your data gold.

Break out your best sifter

It’s great to have a wide variety of data sources coming from registration, surveys, social media, marketing, and so on. But, with so many disparate data sources, how are you ever going to pull it all together in a logical, actionable manner?

Sure, you can glean a few good data nuggets from any source. But, you don’t have time for a great deal of manual sifting, and not all data collection tools are created equal.

This is where unified event and venue management software makes the most sense for data collection. With all of your various data sources neatly tied together in a single, airtight system, there’s less opportunity for error or data loss.

Think about it – who do you suppose really made it big in the Gold Rush: the guys who manually worked the streams and riverbeds with a panning tool as cutting-edge as your everyday kitchen colander? Or, the more sophisticated sifters who used advanced technology and developed streamlined techniques and workflows?

Avoid fools gold

You’re not collecting data just for the sake of collecting data. You want to do something big with it, and you need the right stuff to do it.

As one data strategy article mentions, “What most end users want is the result of these analyses, not the raw data. They want to build decision rules relevant to them based on these insights. Plus, they want to combine the insights with only that part of the raw data that is relevant to them in the context of doing their job.”

Let’s face it – a good percentage of the data we collect is useless in the big picture. You don’t need more of it, you need the best of it. Just as Traci Browne says in a recent article for the Trade Show News Network, “The problem most shows face is not how to get more data, but how to make sense of what they already have.”

A surplus of data can be a challenge to manage, and if it’s coming from a variety of sources, the results can be very misleading if just one tiny bit of information veers off course in the aggregation process. It seems risky to base important business decisions off potentially flawed data. Again, the better your data management system, the more likely the information you pull out of it is solid and valuable.

Collect your riches

Once you have the right data mining tools and an understanding of the type of data that you need, the future is rich with possibilities for your business. Wealth of knowledge breeds opportunity.

You could begin basing so many critical decisions for your events business around the insight you find. Your newfound knowledge of your attendees can help uncover better ways to engage, educate, and inspire them. The deeper extent to which you understand your direct customers’ needs – whether they are exhibitors, sponsors, or other – will increase their loyalty to you. Events can become altogether more personalized and meaningful, all with the right tools and technique.

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