Yesterday, a few of us attended BISG’s Making Information Pay 2012, a half-day conference in New York with a tightly focused program packed with excellent speakers. This year, MIP turned its attention to data, big and meta. Naturally, this piqued our curiosity. I’m also beginning to plan for Technology Forum 2013, and data will play a big role so this was a particularly relevant conference to attend.
The morning started off with sessions discussing the promise and challenge of big data. We heard some sage advice from Information Builders, a software developer that works on business analytics, then Readerlink presented a case study of how they began collecting and using data, and Bookseer showed us what it has learned about the industry using the data it’s collected.
One of the best pieces of advice we got during the first half was don’t collect data unless you have the means and a plan to use it. Data collection feels productive, but it takes time and effort and a data set in itself is worthless unless you have systems and/or processes in place to analyze it. If the value of the insight you’re going to get from the data is lower than the cost of collecting it, you should hold off.
A plan and resources dedicated to analysis is only part of it—you need to commit to data management as well. You need to avoid dirty data if you want your information to be useful. Classify the data properly so that your can analysis can be productive.
The second half the morning was spent sharing data, Brian O’Leary talked about a metadata survey he’s leading for BISG and teased us with some early findings. BookNet Canada has participated in this study and we look forward to being able to share the final report with you soon. Kyusik Chung from Goodreads shared some insights about Goodreads users. (For those of you who missed his talk at Tech Forum 2012, you can watch the video here.)
BISG’s Len Vlahos also shared data from their exhaustive research on e-reading in the US. (Keep an eye out for BNC’s study of Canadian consumers coming out in a few months.)
The closing keynote was given by Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. He gave an excellent presentation on the habit loop—the cue, the routine and the reward—and how publishers might keep this in mind when creating enhanced books or marketing their existing lists. As books are facing increasing competition for the reader’s attention (I’m talking about you, Angry Birds), we need to think about how to create the habit loop for books. Although, many good habits can be formed in people (and rats) by rewarding them with small pieces of chocolate, we can learn a few, more applicable tactics by looking at gaming. And if we learn more about our customers by collecting and analyzing data, we will get insights into how to make books addictive.
MIP was a very worthwhile morning that provided me with lots of inspiration for the Tech Forum 2013. But it also assured me that the projects BNC is working on are exactly what our industry needs right now. This year, we’re expanding research drastically and over the next several months we will release a Canadian consumer behaviour study and share the results of the BISG metadata flow study. We’re also working hard on the market analysis of the Canadian e-book market, with your help. So even if you’re not collecting your own data, rest assured we’ve got some on the way!