The title sounds like an announcement that’s far too early but if you’ve just read about Tesco, maybe it’s not as early as you think.

Naturally, this can be bad news if you value customer-centric businesses (both as clients and as your own marketing identity). If a company that claims to learn so much about its customers is still prone to huge failure, what about those who’ve come to live by this adage? Will lead generators now die by it as well?

Well, here’s the real bad news. It’s not that there’s something completely wrong about a data-driven approach to understanding prospects and generating software leads.

It’s that despite knowing everything about what customers want, there is still that teensy, but ever so crucial, tiny next step:


Sorry about that little Hades impression. But seriously, just because you know what customers want doesn’t mean success is right at your doorstep. You obviously need to start acting and start delivering!

Simply put, Tesco is yet one more company which thought data-driven initiatives were a sort of magic bullet to the problem of sustainability and customer satisfaction.

Speaking of magic though, maybe Tesco isn’t alone when it thinks that knowledge is the ultimate power in today’s data-driven business world. Maybe it’s only like, half of the power? See, in fantasy, just because you know a particular spell doesn’t automatically mean you have all the power it promises.

So what else is it about?

  • It’s about action – The most obvious thing you need next to knowledge is action. Say you know the number of a prospect, you’ve heard about their budget, and you know about their problems. Does it really matter if your engineers and your resident developers are saying that they’re asking the impossible?
  • Helping customers come to terms – Another problem could be that data is often viewed as a resource and only a resource. Have you ever thought that it could also be a form of communication? Data is the other half of the picture, but remember: It’s still only half.

It would be a mistake to think that Tesco’s failure means that a data-driven approach is a disastrous idea or simply an excuse to spend extra on marketing to spy on customers. What needs to be done is more responsible data analysis that has both marketers and everyone else on board.