Ever brand and agency is suddenly a data-driven business. This monicker helps to establish the value of our collective investments in digital measurement, analysis, and optimization technology. This is pretty brilliant, except for one big problem:

A “data-driven” business will fail in the end.

This might only be semantics but instead of talking about “data-driven” we should be talking about the need for a heightened awareness of the numerous sources of data and information we have available in the digital world, enough to take advantage of these sources to create insights and make recommendations. Indeed, you’re a fool not to consider better use of available data in the decision-making process as an amazing improvement.

I’m just very skeptical that a company can be data-driven. Data, when improperly used, can lead not only to poor decisions but to poor decisions made with high confidence that, in turn, could lead to actions that could be erroneous and expensive.

We need to develop “data-informed” businesses.

We need to collectively create increasingly data-informed and data-aware businesses and business people who integrate the wide knowledge we can generate about the digital customer into the traditional decisioning process. The end goal is a more agile, responsive, and intelligent business that is better able to compete in a rapidly changing business environment.

The best organizations understand the relationship between people, process, and technology – and are able to leverage that knowledge to inform their overarching business strategy – a very healthy blend of data and business knowledge, each applied judiciously based on the challenge at hand. Smart business leaders leverage insights made by a trust analytics group/organization – not bots pulling levers based on KPIs.

Success with analytics and optimization requires a balance, and business leaders who will be successful in the future will need to develop a top-down strategy to govern how their business will leverage both digitally-generated insights and the collective insights of their organization.

Let’s not forget: We are both rational and emotional. We are humans, not some robots – we will always carry emotion and rational thoughts in us. All the time.

A ‘data-informed’ business understands the Yin and Yang of the human experience, showing respect for the hard work, commitment, and passion all stakeholders have as part of the enterprise. It encourages actively working with the organization to move the company in the right direction.