In the events business, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the focusing only on spreadsheets and analytics to measure where you are, who your customers are (or should be) and a lot of other information critical to running your event. In fact, I’d argue that the most comfortable posture in the events business is to put your slippers on and snuggle up with your computer to ‘run’ events by ‘pulling statistics’ to make decisions or to ‘know’ your customers. Spreadsheets and more specialized analytic tools have become so ubiquitous in our workplace that many employees feel they must spend countless hours organizing and analyzing data to prove their worth. But there’s a danger in becoming so obsessed with these tools that you lose sight of the big picture: events are about people meeting people!
When you spend all your time working with spreadsheets and preparing charts and graphs of your analysis, you risk becoming a data zombie. A data zombie is someone so consumed with numbers that they lose sight of the fact that these are just tools that are meant to support decision-making. They do not replace the real-life activity of communicating with customers directly and seeing things onsite for yourself. Shudder at the thought!
The problem with data and analytics that become divorced from the underlying reality is that they can be manipulated to tell whatever story you want. They can be used to prove just about anything, whether or not it’s really true. Too much concentration on the data alone can make it easy to forget that there’s a real world out there behind the data, the world about which you’re doing the analysis and making the decisions.
Ultimately, the key to avoiding the data zombie trap is to remember that these tools are not a replacement for critical thinking, creativity, good old-fashioned intuition, or communicating with your customers directly. By keeping the big picture in mind – and using a variety of tools and techniques to support decision-making – you’ll be able to make better decisions and avoid getting lost in the data.
But while an obsession with numbers can be risky, it’s also important to remember that spreadsheets and analytics are only as good as the data that’s behind them. If you’re relying on incomplete or inaccurate data, no amount of fancy charts or graphs will be able to save you. So before you start crunching numbers, make sure that you’re working with the best possible data and that your suppositions reflect reality.
In conclusion, it’s easy to become a data zombie. But if you want to be a truly effective decision-maker, you need to avoid getting lost in the data and keep the bigger picture in mind. Use a variety of tools and techniques to support your decision-making, and don’t be afraid to mix with your customers to get feedback. No more hiding in the staff office at your show!