There’s a touching scene in the Glen Campbell documentary, “I’ll Be Me.” Campbell, who is struggling with Alzheimer’s, is being asked by his doctor what year it is, then what month it is, and what season it is. Campbell answers: “I don’t need to know all that.” It’s as if it’s Campbell’s way of coping with his fading memory—how he manages to hang on to his incredible musical abilities in the midst of his devastating illness.
It’s hard not to see the practical wisdom in Campbell’s response. Blasted by a relentless stream of data, we ALL need to find ways to distinguish between what we really need to know vs. those things that just don’t matter.
Just look at the radio industry for instance. We have PPM data, perceptual studies, music tests, BDS/Mediabase, web analytics. And now big data too. Enough data to sink a ship. And sometimes it does.
For researchers like myself, that means a big responsibility. The days of 75-slide data dumps are done. Our clients need researchers who can focus on the data that matters wherever that may come from, and recommend action. It’s data curation and it requires an understanding not just of research but of the industry and the business issues facing your partner.
As a client, you have a role to play too. Make sure your researcher understands the business decisions you need to make. Challenge them on the data they present. How can that data point help you make the right decision, or give you the insights to generate the ideas that will move the needle? And whenever they bury you in data you don’t need, remember Glen Campbell and tell them: “I don’t need to know all that.”