If we have data, let's look at data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine.
—Jim Barksdale, CEO of Netscape
As the television series Mad Men depicted, the Madison Avenue executives of the 1960s swirled scotch and smoked cigars from their Eames chairs, stoking their creative powers and developing the memorable advertising campaigns of the era. But very little of that reality remains today.
Modern marketing bears more resemblance to high-frequency stock trading than to Mad Men. Marketers sit in front of computers to buy and sell impressions on online advertising exchanges in a matter of milliseconds. Outputs of algorithms determine, in real time, precisely on which web page or mobile app to place an ad, precisely which variation of the ad to serve based on what the software knows about the user, and precisely how much to pay for it based on the probability the viewer will convert to a paid customer.
The paradigm shift from Mad Men to Math Men hasn't happened exclusively on Madison Avenue. This new era of marketing heralds analogous transformations in sales, human resources, and product management. No matter the role, no matter the sector, data is transforming it.
Modern sales teams employ predictive scoring technologies that crawl the web to aggregate data about potential customers and calculate the likelihood a customer will close. Each morning, sales account executives log into their customer relationship ...