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The battle of transforming data into information

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel

It is fast approaching two months I’ve been working as a SEO professional in digital marketing and there has been one constant theme, the usefulness of data. Rational decision making is limited by a lack of information and time, but by having knowledge and tools at hand, one can quite easily limit these bottlenecks.

At the SEOmoz Pro Training Seminar 2009 Excel was either referred to or used numerous times and reading some of the commentary about the two days, I wasn’t alone in feeling I need to improve my Excel skills. With some pivot tables, identifying the links your competitors have but you do not can take minutes instead of being a horrible laborious task.

One of my modules on my Master’s was quantitative research methods and it comprised of statistics. P values, confidence intervals, distribution models, regression models… all of that. It was the least enjoyable module I did at university but I worked hard and graded really well on it. Perhaps had I had a better understanding of SEM, I could have seen use for it and played around a little for the gain of digital marketing. I wasn’t a total stranger to Google Analytics when starting my job, but I hadn’t used it on any of my own websites. Google Analytics is really interesting and now it’s running on my sites.

In an article from Wired earlier this year Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist said the following:

“What’s ubiquitous and cheap?” Varian asks. “Data.” And what is scarce? The analytic ability to utilize that data. As a result, he believes that the kind of technical person who once would have wound up working for a hedge fund on Wall Street will now work at a firm whose business hinges on making smart, daring choices—decisions based on surprising results gleaned from algorithmic spelunking and executed with the confidence that comes from really doing the math.”

It’s very clear that knowing how to use data and transform it into information is very important, and I need to hit the Excel books.

So, what do you think ?