No, it’s not the S.p.e.c.t.r.e. of data.

I’m not sure whether it’s a sign of a winter that’s gone on for too long but I woke up Monday morning and data was on my mind. I’m sure I’m not the only one, the news regarding Cambridge Analytica broke over the course of the weekend and it’s certainly led to some interesting water cooler gossip for those of us who don’t follow March madness. I’ve been aware of what Cambridge Analytica had been up to for quite some time and I look at their offerings with both stimulation and trepidation. I don’t want to get into the conspiracy theories with my thoughts, this is data we’re discussing and my preference has always been on the tangible rather than the surreal nature of what’s happening in political circles.

Of course being immersed in the world of data throughout my career in the digital realm it’s not all that unusual for me to think of how to use data in a similar manner, albeit with far less nefarious intentions. At the end of the day I’ve leveraged data in many forms and all of them have been focused on moving metal for dealerships. I’ve been working with marketing data since the dawn of the millennium and in its simplest form everything we gained was thrown into silos in order to drive messaging that users had volunteered for or shown interest in. It was still mostly labor intensive and it was great for the sake of categorization but pales in comparison to what data driven initiatives can handle in the present era. These days it’s not all that difficult to automate processes and provide messaging that’s targeted and succinct although we’re only trying to direct buyer decisions rather than trying to sway political opinion.

There is a fine line between using data in a responsible and responsive manner, don’t share it with third parties, don’t harvest the periphery of your client’s relationships and don’t try to influence an election. If you follow these simple prerequisites you should be able to stay out of trouble while your dealership will benefit by an increase in knowledge. Over the past decade we’ve been tinkering with and analyzing the extraction of data for automotive sales, new and used and in our particular case for sub-prime clients. Everything we do is focused, targeted and analyzed although creating predictive analytics for automotive purchase decisions is very different than trying to have your candidate take office or separate from the EU. We’re creating targeted content based upon data interpretations and that helps us to move metal by influencing peer opinions and leveraging social media as a word of mouth amplifier.

I believe that the Cambridge Analytica story has legs and quite possibly some evil James Bond villain type of intention to it. As it grows this is going to be a fascinating story to follow and we’ll be looking at it from many angles as data is the lifeblood of our offering. I’m quite curious to see how deep this will run but in the meantime for the first time in my career I feel like I can finally put my initials to good use. Martin, Aston Martin.