Ask Anna: What does data-driven business mean for creativity?

In her latest column, CR’s agony aunt Anna Higgs breaks down the benefits that data can bring to making creative work, but explains why it shouldn’t be leading all the decision-making

Dear Anna,

Increasingly, I am hearing the phrase, “We’re moving towards becoming a more data-driven business.” What does this actually mean? I understand the question and the means of measurement, but culturally? What does it mean for creative consultancy?


Dear Anon,

You’re right, data and analytics are everywhere these days and can mean different things to different people. We’ve known that ‘knowledge is power’ since that ancient Latin aphorism was coined, but these days such phrases seem to suggest that with enough information you can conquer the world.

A data-driven business is essentially one that uses data to help make better decisions and therefore do better business. It’s a kickback against the fallibility of following your gut or trusting your intuition, because, in a business sense, if you’re wrong, your business suffers. We all get that. Businesses are in the business of removing as much risk and room for human error as possible.