Jackhammers aren’t for Everyone

According to University of Illinois Gies College of Business Professor Kevin Hartman, “No tool is ever as valuable as the analyst.” In his class on Digital Marketing Analytics in Theory, he sites Avinash Kaushik’s 90/10 rule. This rule says that a company should devote 90% of their expenditures of their data analytics on the analysts, and 10% on the analytical tools/programs.

Getting to the bottom of Kaushik’s 90/10 Rule

Consider, while we are making ever greater strides in developing artificial intelligence, we do have the tools to crunch the numbers, but we don’t have the tools that can analyze that data at a human level or to make judgements on what appeals to people at the human level.

For example, today, we have smart cars that drive themselves. These cars are programmed to avoid other cars, and trucks on the road. They are programmed to stay within the lines on highways and roads, and they “know” not to drive off the side of the road into trees and ditches. But they don’t know why they shouldn’t do these things. They have no way of understanding the pain and misery that results in auto accidents.

Now for getting from point A to point B, this works fine. Self-driving cars and trucks are surely the way of the future, eliminating most accidents due to fatigue, alcohol/drug impairment, and just plain lousy drivers. But getting from point A to point B in a safe and secure manner is one thing, trying to place a client’s product before the most attractive audience is quite another.

Let’s say our analytical tool identifies a large and vibrant Facebook group that enjoys boating, fishing and camping. The members are nominally in their 50’s and 60’s years of age, medium to high income earners, and they reside in mostly rural areas in the Mid-West. And additionally, from the data collected, they are planning a big weekend trip to a large lake resort to celebrate together.

Our analytic tool surmises that these empty-nester country music loving, outdoorsy folks would be a perfect market for our regional beer client. “Let’s fill their pages with our beer ads,” the data tells us. But then, the human analyst does a quick look at the numbers and discovers no other beer company has been advertising to them. Maybe this is an undiscovered gold mine! So, the analyst does a quick check on Facebook to see what the group is up to. And that is when she discovers that the group is descending on the lake resort to gather for their annual AA sobriety celebration. Without the analyst, the analytics programming almost cost the beer client either a completely wasted ad campaign, or even worst to perhaps cause someone to relapse.

Data analytics tools are just that: tools for humans (until AI is perfected…) to use to help us become effective and efficient. And of course, it is vitally important to have a qualified and skilled analyst watching over these numbers. The best tools in the world are not much use in the hands of the wrong people.

A few years ago, we had some damaged concrete in our sidewalk in front of our house. Water had seeped under the sidewalk and caused one of the sections to sink and this created a trip-hazard according to an unidentified neighbor… And unfortunately, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make these repairs according to the city Code inspector who notified us about it.

I have a brother-in-law who is an amazing guy, and he just happens to do concrete work, and so we called him, and he promptly came up with a small crew to fix it for us. The first part of the process was to break up the existing sidewalk concrete and haul that away. When they arrived, they fired up a compressor and started breaking up the concrete with a jackhammer.

After breaking up one section, my brother-in-law invited me to give it a try. I had never worked a jackhammer before and I hadn’t done any physical work since I was just out of college, so I wasn’t entirely enthused about the offer. But rather than looking like a spoil sport I gave it a try.

It was heavy as hell and shook me until I thought my fillings were going to come out. After five minutes, I had broken up about a square foot of concrete and I pretended my phone was ringing. “An important call. I have to take this,” I said to the crew of smirking faces. One of the young guys then hopped off the truck and relieved me of the monster gadget, and I walked back to my house fake-talking on my phone. From my home-office window overlooking the repair job, I watched in amazement as the young fellow chipped away at the concrete like it was butter. 

Needless to say, a good tool in the right hands makes all the difference. Make sure you aren’t wasting money on expensive, elaborate analytical programs that your under-qualified analyst can’t interpret for you. You need the right combination to maximize your digital marketing budget dollars.

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