Data for Dummies: Information Organized

Location Intelligence for the unacquainted professional.

Wed Oct 31 13:16:00 EDT 2018
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Holiday season is just around the corner, and as a location data professional, I’m fine tuning my annual explanation of what I do for a living.

Que the scene: The extended family is gathered around the dinner table for a Thanksgiving meal when Aunt Cheryl chimes in, “How’s work? And what is it that you do again?” Oh no…here goes nothing. Typically, after about three failed attempts and four bizarre metaphors, I give up and say, “I guess it’s more complicated than I thought” as I reach for a much needed glass of wine.

My colleagues know this scenario all too well - our families don’t understand what we do, and we don’t understand how to explain what we do to our families. This may sound light hearted on the surface, but it’s a real problem. The connection we fail to make is that our family members are often times working professionals who may even be a part of the organizations which rely on our data to function. This failed explanation has now transcended from a family setting to a professional setting, and instead of failing to explain what it is that we do, we fail to explain the value of our industry and how it impacts key business decisions at organizations across the spectrum. Yeah…this problem is bigger than it appears.

A Simpler Approach:

Good news – explaining data doesn’t have to be so complicated. As data professionals, if we remove ourselves from daily interactions with colleagues and industry jargon, what we fail to explain becomes quite simple. Data can be most plainly described as information. Information becomes “data” when it is organized and given structure so that each piece of information can be readily identified and made use of. Data then becomes “location data” when the organized information is related to space, and in some cases, time. We are information experts, and we specialize in collecting, organizing, and delivering relevant information to businesses who need it. That’s it.

I realized that the very word, “data” has a technical connotation associated with things like software, databases, APIs, etc. which creates a mental block for most folks who are not technical or not familiar. There is no need to detail the ways in which we deliver or interact with information – this warrants an entirely separate conversation. If your explanation is riddled with tech speak, the simple message is often misinterpreted or missed altogether.

Instead, it’s important to focus on the fundamental concept – data is information. Information of all types that can add value, identify risk, and uncover opportunity. The next time you’re given the spotlight, try this simpler approach and see for yourself.

At Pitney Bowes, our team of data experts understand that accuracy, accessibility, and up-to-date information are the pillars of useful location intelligence. Our immense collection of property, business, demographic, and boundary information products are developed from authoritative sources, cleansed by data professionals, and updated frequently to capture a dynamic world. For ease of use and operational efficiency, all information is connected and relatable as a part of a larger data ecosystem. Insight is enhanced when structured information meets a structured environment. Reach out to a Pitney Bowes data expert for details on how to extract more value from your information: https://www.pitneybowes.com/us/data.html

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