In my recent post, I committed to trying to understand the discrepancies revealed in a survey of marketers, the majority of whom recognized the need to be more data focused despite the admission by nearly half of the respondents that they “trust their gut.” More importantly, I hope to suggest answers that will help to conquer data overload and math phobia, the results of which, may advance your career.
First, I should mention that I enjoy statistics, and yes, a few friends have regaled me with the following joke: “A statistician is someone who is good with numbers, but doesn’t have the personality to be an accountant.” Ouch, that may be a bit harsh, but it does highlight how many view math. Scientists regard math anxiety as cause for concern, but believe me, there are innovative teaching tools that can turn those from math-a-phobe to math-a-phile.
What percentage of people think math is difficult?
Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, summarized recent research, writing: “The personal and educational consequences of math anxiety are great. Math anxiety affects about 50 percent of the U.S. population and more women than men. Researchers know that math anxiety starts early. They have documented it in students as young as 5, and that early anxiety snowballs, leading to math difficulties and avoidance that only get worse as children get older. Researchers also know that it is not related to overall intelligence.”
Boaler’s last statement is significant, as many who have the ability to do math nonetheless exhibit anxiety.
Storytelling and Math
One of the more interesting theorists who has devised techniques to overcome math phobia is James J. Asher, Ph.D. He notes that math is often taught in a dry manner, but believes there are many opportunities for story telling that can illustrate a mathematical concept. For example, he tells the story of a teacher asking an 8th grade student for the definition of infinity, to which the student replied “Infinity is a box of Cream of Wheat…because a box of Cream of Wheat illustrates the exact nature of infinity. The reason: On the box is a picture of a chef in white outfit and chef’s hat holding a box of Cream of Wheat. The box in his hand has a miniature picture of a chef holding a box of Cream of Wheat and so on into eternity.”
Dr. Asher also believes it is important to highlight the fascinating and exciting stories behind math discoveries in order to inspire students. For example, Sir Isaac Newton was next-to-the-lowest ranking student at his grammar school, and entered Cambridge with a background not much beyond simple arithmetic. Newton, however, was fascinated with the movement of the planets yet there were no mathematical formulas that could explain the movements, so through serious self-study, he invented calculus, which many consider to be the “gem” of mathematics.
As a marketer today, you may be fascinated by the movements, preferences, and habits of your customers; but the good news is that you don’t need to invent a special branch of mathematics. There are tools today to analyze your data, provide actionable insights, and make you a star (which Newton might see from his telescope!) So, let’s take a look at how one company conquered data overload, math phobia and advanced company objectives.
Case Study: Nova Pontocom
Nova Pontocom, a Brazilian e-commerce firm, while only having been established in 2010, has vaulted to the number two position in Brazilian online retail. Known for selling travel deals, household appliances, furniture, DVDs, and electronics, as well as offering technology solutions and wholesale operations for businesses, Nova Pontocom achieved an impressive annual revenue of R$4.8 billion. With 2,500 employees handling an inventory of more than 650,000 products, it is clear to see that analytics with real time data is a must to respond in a timely way to customers.
For real-time data, improved communication and collaboration as well as ease of implementation, Nova Pontocom turned to Adobe Analytics solution within Adobe Marketing Cloud. Here are a few highlights of successful solutions:
Challenge: Implementing Enterprise-level analytics in an efficient and effective manner
Solution: To the surprise of the Nova Pontocom implementation team, while it had been given a goal of 90 days for implementation, the task was completed in only 28 days. The team was then able to use the found time to create specific metrics and dashboards for every company department.
Challenge: Boost Sales through Product Visibility
Solution: The rapid analytical results and dynamic alerts allow Nova Pontocom to modify its online promotions to align with marketing trends as well as to boost sales and profits.
“An item considered Grade A according to some metrics could be Grade C in sales, and vice versa. Based on sales estimates and alerts about website views, we can now solve potential problems that we were not even able to identify before,” says the analytics manager.
Challenge: Increase Growth and Productivity
Solution: An IT team comprised of eighty persons had monitored website performance with the capacity to monitor 20,000 items within a given time period. Through the implementation, this same team now monitors 600,000 items in the same time frame, with that figure projected to increase to one million items.
Challenge: Harness Data Quickly, Improve Communication and Collaboration
Solution: Through the implementation of Adobe Analytics, Nova Pontocom is able to construct strategies that leverage insights gleaned from its big data. As an additional benefit, the company found this led to improved communication and collaboration throughout departments and synchronized the analysis of online data related to client, product, and sales funnels.
What do you think?
Now, back to the survey discussed above in which 76% of marketers agreed they need to be more data-focused to succeed and 49% of marketers reported “trusting my gut” to guide decisions on where to invest their marketing budgets. Also72% of marketers agreed that long-term success at their company is tied to proving marketing return on investment.
With results like those above, I think data analytics trumps “trusting my gut.” What do you