Data is a Powerful Companion for Life

Posted in: Love Letters to Data

Dear Data,

Growing up in the product world, I always wanted to get to know you better. You were there but hidden in plain sight. You were in the analytics or Mixpanel events we gathered to measure our products’ performance. You were in the conversion rates of the campaigns we managed. You were under the surface of every effort, yet I felt like I never knew you, never dared to fully commit. Until I did.

I wanted to thank you for letting me see the way and sharing our story with others.

I was first empowered by you when I started running ad campaigns. I felt like I was learning a new language. I had you to guide my decisions, and in fact, you were all that mattered. An ad could be more or less to my liking, but you helped me decide what to keep and what to throw away.

You and I had a secret knowledge no one else had, but I was just learning to ride a bike with the training wheels on—optimizing the results of someone else’s work, not yet making impactful decisions.

When we met next, I was starting out as a product manager. You gathered clicks and scrolls, and you showed me what my users cared about and didn’t care about. You helped me see the full funnel and understand where customers dropped off when shopping.

You and I sat together with designers and helped create better products. Our friend, “The Personal Opinion,” had to sit quietly in the corner. We (me and my personal opinion, and others’ opinions for that matter) still hung out very often when it came to movies, books, and many other things—but when it came to products and professional issues, you and I, Data, were becoming a close-knit team. But I still was just getting started, talking with you about the little things, unaware of your true powers.

Sometimes, you and I had to be apart. You had other, more powerful friends who thought you were too sensitive and important to hang out with me. Thus, I met many other friends. I think they were all buddies because I never did learn their names. They all had these nicknames, like “Intuition,” “Gut Feeling,” “Best Practice,” “Urgent Request’,’ “Important Task,” and the king of them all—“All of Our Competitors Do It.”

There was also a twin brother that frequently shot down many of my ideas called “None of Our Competitors Do It.”

A funny bunch, for sure, and they weren’t always wrong. But without you, Data, it was a long journey to nowhere. Debating with them was impossible, as any discussion was resolved by the bouncer, “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.” He was a showstopper, to say the least.

So, I couldn’t wait any longer. I made the move and popped the question: “Would you be my companion, in product and in marketing, for better or worse, till a change of company do us part?”

You agreed and came to me in the form of a beautiful data warehouse. And you even brought a dowry—organized data that helped me ask human questions and receive real answers.

A question like: “Why do our users come back to us?” suddenly wasn’t answered by “Intuition” alone. When I wanted to help understand users better, you were there for me, open to any question. The training wheels came off. Your two sisters, “Correlation” and “Causation,” were very confusing and very similar to each other at first glance (and I still get them mixed up sometimes to this day), but they were all part of the family now. And what family doesn’t have some arguments?

I finally found your true powers—to create new things, not just answer questions.

The answers you helped with created a coherent picture of reality on which I could make decisions. You weren’t just a dictionary or a chart; you were also a map I could use to chart a course toward new destinations. By getting to know you enough, I finally met your final form—“Insight.”

Empowered by data, it was shining as bright as the sun, and while true insight wasn’t common, that’s what made it all the more attractive.

I promise to always strive to work with you and all you bring with you. You balance out intuition, overcome personal opinions, and add a layer to every discussion.

Thank You.

 

Forever yours,

Alex Reizer, Senior Product Manager, GlassesUSA.com

 

GlassesUSA.com is a leading online optical retailer using data and technology to enhance the lives of their customers by providing the perfect pair of glasses individually catered to every person’s unique style, budget, and exact needs.

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