The word data is only four letters. But, understanding it, can be somewhat complicated. Some of us may see the word “data” and think of a big tangled mess or even worse a menacing monster.

I find a scorpion to be somewhat of a great example of how I think of data. Scorpions are small, yet poisonously dangerous – leaving most people with a natural fear of them. Well, its time to lose your fear of data (I can’t help with the scorpions) because now there’s an opportunity to facilitate the understanding the data ….just as easy as you spell it.

It is difficult to imagine a world without data, just like it would be difficult to imagine a world without technology. We are in the transition period where data is moving from the corporate world to the non-profit space. Associations and non-profits are beginning to move away from the traditional way of making decision’s based on intuition only and learning from their data to build towards the future planning of:


Marketing Strategies

Membership Retention

Business Intelligence

My educational background, like most, is not as a data scientist. But, working with Bear Analytics for the last five months, I have learned to “see” the story that data can tell you. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how easy it is to notice trends without a complicated system of analysis. You can look at two correlating trends and come up with a simple conclusion, especially if you are looking at a rich, historical, data set.

Small Example

Mainly, I work in the preliminary stages of the data analyzing process. I handle the front end cleaning and organizing, so our tools can analyze and interpret the data for our clients.

I organize and standardize data like:

Company names

Job titles


By organizing and standardizing company names, you can see

What companies are coming to your event (retention and loyalty over time)

Which companies are sending more or less people year-over-year

How many people from each company are attending your event, and how has it changed

Finally, by looking at the states to which your attendees come from, you can get the sense of how far your attendees are willing to travel to get to your event. This is especially useful if your event rotates.

You may not be a data scientist, but you weren’t hired to be one. You were hired to make business decisions to help improve your association or its event. Data is just the stepping stone and understanding it even at the simplest form can deliver insights.

I didn’t know data when I first started at Bear Analytics and I don’t know everything yet, but I do know enough to make a conclusion from what I am looking at.

Proving….It’s just as easy to understand data as it was to spell it.

Still scared?


Photos by OfDoom, Jetvolski