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Roundup of July news stories

Rachel Wheeler Archive

At this point, there's not a single industry left unaffected by the worldwide data revolution. In every sector, organizations are working to gather more information about the world around them, which they can then use to analyze their customers, their competitors and their overall surroundings.

Every month, more and more news stories break about the progress in the data movement. Companies and non-profits are finding additional ways to obtain knowledge, analyze it and act upon it. July was no exception, as many more headlines emerged in this exciting industry.

Here are four stories in particular that made waves this month.

Discovering why medical data matters
We learned this month that it's vitally important to have accurate information on file for medical patients - when you don't, disasters can happen. One such example came from Indiana, where a massive clerical error at a hospital caused 63,000 people to receive letters with the wrong personal information on them, according to WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis.

"We value the privacy and security of patient information and regret this mailing error," said Rex McKinney, privacy officer for St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, according to WTHR.

This was an embarrassing mistake for the medical facility. It took a lot of effort for the organization to control the PR storm that followed, not to mention time and money to fix the mistake and send new mailings. Proper address verification would have been a nice precaution.

Analytics for new restaurants?
Pretty much every industry needs data quality these days, but according to the Washington Post, there's one trendy new sector where it's become especially important: the restaurant business. Winston Bao Lord, founder of tech startup Venga, told the newspaper that business leaders are looking to make smarter decisions about opening eateries based on advanced analytics.

"The key is actually taking that big data and making it actionable," Lord told the Post. "That's why I think you're seeing consolidation in the industry. People realize there's a wealth of data out there, but restaurants need you to connect a lot of different dots to provide a complete, actionable picture."

As the "big data" movement gathers steam, restaurateurs continue to be among the foremost thinkers in the industry.

Enriching data for recruiting, HR
Here's another area where there was a lot of hype this month surrounding big data: human resources. When you're looking to hire someone, it's nearly impossible to sift through a massive pile of resumes and choose the best candidate - but Diem Nguyen, technical recruiter at employment technology firm Evernote, told Human Resource Executive Online that data-driven online resources can be a huge help in this regard.

"The information we were getting from those sites was very helpful, both in determining how someone might fit in with our company and in customizing our outreach to them," Nguyen said.

It's never easy to understand an applicant based on nothing more than a resume and interview. But with comprehensive data, it's never been easier to paint a more complete picture of any given candidate.

An improved approach to email marketing
Finally, a key question was debated this month: What's the best way to gather information from consumers? A lot of newfangled methods involving smartphones and social sites have gotten some hype lately, but according to, there's evidence that an old-fashioned approach still works best. That would be email.

The news source cited a recent study from ExactTarget, which found that despite all the changes in technology over the last decade, email remains consumers' most preferred channel for receiving marketing messages. Bryan Wade, the company's senior vice president of content marketing, said this is likely because people enjoy having control over exactly how and when they respond. This is something to think about moving forward, as companies work diligently to fine-tune their future marketing strategies.