Chapter 11Data Can Be a Matter of Corporate Life and Death

Data is at the heart of some of the most influential concepts in business management. Authors such as Jim Collins, Geoffrey Moore, and Clayton Christensen have placed data at the center of their theories on why some businesses thrive, and why others crash and burn.

Collins, author of Good to Great, outlines many characteristics of companies that moved from being decent businesses to great investment performers. One characteristic: having a CEO at the helm who is a “Level 5 Executive,” who builds “enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” These companies also have a “culture of discipline” and embrace technology, not for technology's sake but to improve the business. Another key element of what Collins called “good-to-great” companies is data-driven: they rely on an “economic denominator” that uses data to measure a key performance indicator. At Walgreens, for example, the economic denominator is profit per customer visit. For Nucor, it was profit per ton of finished steel. And for Abbott it was profit per employee.

In the philosophy of Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon Valley's Cutting Edge, data is the key driver in an ever-changing world that marketers, especially in the tech sector, must constantly grapple with. Moore's law (which was actually formulated in the mid-1960s by a different Moore—Gordon Moore, ...

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