Those are three sim­ple words—insights into data—and sim­plic­ity is a desired goal to reach when you’re try­ing to edu­cate peo­ple about things like how to make data give you the insights you need to mar­ket effec­tively. I am a data mechanic. I’d like to say I’m a data plan­ner, but it seems in the haste to keep up with the veloc­ity, vol­ume, and vari­ety of data avail­able today, we just charge off and do it most times. Thus, I become a mechanic to fix bro­ken data rather than a designer to cre­ate sleek and robust data machines. Just like an auto­mo­bile mechanic, peo­ple with bro­ken data don’t care about how you fix it. They just sign the autho­riza­tion to repair order and tell me to call them if it’s going to cost more than a gazil­lion dol­lars to fix it.

My pur­pose for being here is to right that wrong. Any good mechanic—data or automotive—will tell you that the best way to get good results from your invest­ment is to plan respon­si­bly, per­form well­ness checks on your invest­ment at peri­odic inter­vals (KPIs), iden­tify prob­lems early (before the data machine breaks down), and do small course cor­rec­tions. This will be a lengthy series of arti­cles to teach and amaze you with effec­tive tech­niques for imple­ment­ing data plans for your mar­ket­ing cam­paign that deliver the insights you need to engage your cus­tomer per­son­ally and directly.

If the mes­sage hasn’t hit home yet, pay atten­tion. It’s all about insight into what the data means. It is not about inte­grat­ing the data feeds of a thou­sand sources. The dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing teams, the prod­uct sales teams only care about the insights that data pro­vides in giv­ing them a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage to increase the profit mar­gin and gain more sales. They do not care about how or why the tools used to gain that insight are work­ing cor­rectly. We also see new tools that are pro­lif­er­at­ing the mar­ket more quickly than new social media sites with an API to gain access to their data streams. When we talk about tools, and we will talk about tools, it will be in the con­text of what insight we can gain from the data as a result if using that tool.

Adobe approaches data as a means to gain insight. When I, as a data mechanic, am asked to fix a bro­ken data machine, it is because a client and team lost sight of the objec­tive, insight. In doing that, we work on harder and more com­plex prob­lems than just inte­grat­ing data. You have to embrace com­plex­ity if you ever hope to achieve sim­plic­ity for the ben­e­fit of our cus­tomers. The cus­tomer needs insight, not integration.