Tech-lite companies often rely on data to create value and barriers as they scale. Being able to structurally think about what data your company is and is not leveraging may enable you to
- deliver more value and create additional barriers from the data that you are currently mining or
- identify other types of data that you can and should be capturing. While no framework is without exception, I have attempted to create a structure that should help you take inventory of your data.
The diagram below illustrates how I segment the world of data into key types: identity, descriptive, subjective, activity, relationship.
Identity: The lynch-pin data type is identity data. Simply put, this is a unique identifier that enables us to relate all other information to a unique person, group, corporation, institution, digital asset or otherwise. Identity data enables all other data types to be related, making descriptions, comparisons and relationship possible.
Descriptive: This data type includes all objective information that is used to describe the identity. Most commonly this includes demographic information either provided by the entity itself or by third-party data sources.
Activity: The actions of an identity, such as their browsing behaviour, fall into the activity data bucket. This type of data is obviously largely unique to living identities (people). You can’t track the search activity of digital assets.
Subjective: The subjective data category refers to opinions offered by the identity about other identities. Both qualitative and quantitative ratings of services and products fall squarely into this bucket.
Relationship: This data type refers to information about how identities relate indirectly to other identities. This bucket includes both contextual relationships – an identity is adjacent to another and the more obviously relationships found in social graphs.
While identity data makes the other four types of data relevant by connecting each type of information to a unique entity (persona, place or thing), each of the other four types of data type can be used to create barriers. Descriptive data can make a directory more robust; activity data can make advertisement targeting more effective; subjective data can be the life blood of a review site and relationship data is the building block of a social graph.
While there are many applications for each type of data, it’s important for you to think about how your business can leverage each type. I recommend that you grab your team and spend a few hours at a white board brainstorming all of the different types of data that you can be capturing and how you might use that data to create both more value for your customers and greater barriers for your competitors.
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