As humans, we use data every day. Sometimes when we use data it’s completely subconscious – we don’t even realize we’re doing it. When we count the number of emails in our inbox, we can predict just how busy our day is going to be.
So, what is data?
Data is the plural form of “datum”, datum is a distinct piece of information that’s usually formatted in some way to be useful. Data are empirical facts that are:
- Countable features of the world.
How can we use data?
Another way of looking at data is to consider it the measurement of a specific things as they were at a particular time. The repeatable measurement of facts allows us to predict a certain outcome.
As these simple “hypothetical” examples have illustrated, data allows us to:
- Make predictions
- Validate theories
- Take action to improve our lives and the lives of others.
As we gather more and more data, we should be able to predict more accurately and continue to improve our prediction.
The business case for using data is pretty much the same. By observing and measuring empirical facts that are generated as a byproduct of human activity, digital marketers can determine how many people clicked a link in a search ad (empirical fact) and make predictions about the future success or potential failures of similar ads.
Executives can use data to understand what the potential impact of making a decision a certain way would be. Executives or other business leaders can even use data to understand how the business is doing.