Abe Smith: I can see clearly now…

It’s 7:00 am on a Tuesday and the day breaks, not with the sun or a warm cup of java, but with the sterile “X” of that iconic green productivity staple known as Microsoft Excel staring me in the face.

As a business leader driving a large organisation in Europe, like so many other executives, I crave data almost as much as caffeine. Throughout the day, we all rely on numbers, facts, real, raw or refined data to make decisions, guide our thoughts or measure the cadence of our work. It’s natural. With that thought in mind, it’s the parallel of how I do my job replete with dashboards and directional signals that got me thinking about our world of PR and comms.

Early on in my journey here in Europe, I wandered over to speak with our team of analysts one evening to get an understanding of the work they produce for our clients. What that conversation made me quickly realise, was what was possible – what is possible. As the night progressed, I got to speak with Barney Barron, one of our best and brightest, and was schooled on how some of corporate’s best and brightest operate. He showed me the streams of data we cull (often millions of clips, social posts, broadcasts, etc.) and the output placed into sensical streams that spell out the realities and makes known the risks, or opportunities, in plain black and white. And then, like some Michelin star sommelier, he took out the really good stuff.

One of our largest clients, who happens to be driving the tech industry, had a clear directive from their celebrity CEO – “show me the voice, depict our position analytically and guide me with a view where I can make decisions, fast.” As Barney showed me the report about to be sent across, right there in front of me, like the glowing North Star, stood side-by-side competitive comparisons, market-by-market, product-by-product, and position-by-position clear as day.

Layered-in were indicators like stock price correlated and unit sales. Like a Good Will Hunting moment, it was clear, visible and relevant. And if the charts weren’t “hit you in the head” directive enough, the subtle commentary made the evidence all the more obvious. At that precise moment, I was hooked and fascinated. Why wouldn’t EVERY Global 1,000 CEO/CMO/CFO use this kind of data? Better yet, how do we make this kind of custom view available to the masses knowing that whether you’re a biscuit company or a football team or a government agency or a multinational, what we had was powerful. The democratisation of data and the clarity of taking business intelligence to predictive guidance was game changing and we delivered it.

The culmination is our philosophy that the technical platform plus people provides this kind of power. Lately, our efforts with the acquisition of companies like Argus de la Presse in France or Prime Research in Germany accentuates the value that smart people, armed with next generation tools, doing this kind of work can yield. The advancement of tech like Cision Impact illuminates that the ability to track outcomes from PR takes this one step further.

Facebook’s recent announcements of how AI combined with thousands of people allows the company to monitor for ‘fake news and set the record straight, literally, is consistent with our view. The fidelity of insights is realised through algorithmic processing and then equally intelligent brains that discern the subtleties. We call this the Facebook Rules.

And as the industry prepares to celebrate how great companies apply this approach practically, and with excellence at the AMEC awards in June, we should herald the great ones. Many of our clients – 36 to be precise over the last 3 years – have been seen as leaders in this revolution (bragging rights, the most by an order of magnitude of any in the field). As the revolutionaries that relish this kind of approach gather in Barcelona this June, we will – I’m sure – celebrate the approach and the value.

My peers like Ian Tickle from Domo and Brandon Paine from Oracle Data Cloud see the value that data and data driven insights can bring and, together with such like-minded folks, the markets become wide open. Together, we can reshape the philosophies around business value and business insights as the important measurements, not the typical vanity metrics as we have often encountered.

As we progress, the reality becomes clearer and, with that, I leave you with Jimmy Cliff of reggae legend saying it right…

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