"WINNING WITH DATA: CRM AND ANALYTICS FOR THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS"

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, August 24, 2018 Under: Book Reviews

This is an incredibly relevant book which, although primarily based in the sports business, can certainly be applied to most industries in the modern, data-driven world.  In fact, for large parts, the sports aspect feels notably incidental; “Winning with Data…” is, in fact, much more than this: a must-have business guide, written by what is clearly a top professional in her field.  Fiona has a pedigree of the business side of sports; she is clearly highly connected, and I was left in little doubt that she is a serious authority on the subject. 

This book is not just about CRM and data analytics – it is an in-depth and comprehensive authority on digital marketing and business intelligence generally, and there would look to be something of interest for all digital marketing professionals and practitioners.  It reads like a textbook, is incredibly hard-laboured and well-researched, and is perfect for corporate business leaders, startup entrepreneurs and business students alike.  It is not, as I read, a cover to cover entertainer – this book is pure reference; credibly sourced, with a comprehensive index – it should be available to hand for those serious about using CRM and data in their digital marketing strategy.

I should advise that the book is quite heavily geared towards the benefits of harvesting consumer data.  In a time when this is a more controversial subject than ever, Fiona clearly revels in the opportunities of using data and analytics, for both the company and the data subject.  I will admit, when she theorizes that we actually like our data to be used for a personalized customer service, it seems a little flippant; her suggestions that if the company is conducting itself ethically, and we are being presented with offers which please us, we should be glad, with the ability to opt out, seems a touch idealistic and suggests a touch of profession-justification-denial; I believe there is a general consensus that the larger companies don’t conduct themselves ethically, the offers we receive are so relentless as to desensitize us to their worth, and unless you are in an island tribe, it is virtually impossible to opt out.  That said, I have no doubt that Fiona is a top professional who conducts her business correctly and ensures that her clients do the same.  An entire chapter on GDPR (which only came into force in May of this year) clearly shows, firstly, just how fastidious she is in this respect, and secondly, just how very, very current this book is; I would even profess that in respect of digital marketing technologies generally, this book is about as up-to-date a source as you are likely to find, and I highly recommend it for this aspect alone.  Also, in her defence, she does remind us of ways in which consumer data is used for good, such as helping to create community initiatives for the disabled or underprivileged, or promoting healthier lifestyles.  At no point does she ever advocate data-harvesting for its owns sake.

Although universally appealing, “Winning With Data…” is about the sports business, and I shouldn’t downplay how prominently this does feature.  Of course, the notable point of difference where sports is concerned is that the clubs already have the Holy Grail of business: an (almost) unconditionally loyal customer base, unlike your average supermarket.  The focus, therefore, is more on optimising existing and passive customers than reaching new ones.  Be warned, there is little romantic notion of sports clubs’ genuine love for their fans, and harvesting of their data (albeit with their consent) is a KPI in itself.  The reason for this is plain and simple: consumer data is an asset; in fact, the financial potential of a sports club’s fan-base is a resaleable asset in itself.  As well as this, analysis of that data is a crucial selling point in securing lucrative sponsorship; moreover, the arrangement is a reciprocal one, which may be a touch disturbing.

This book isn’t only about data, but also general digital marketing practices, with some invaluable advice and fantastic predictions for the future technology of marketing, such as AR and VR.  As somebody in business I found this book incredibly helpful, undoubtedly more so than the myriad other business books I have been sent; it is not a motivational business guide, with a little bit of professional background – this is the real thing: a completely thorough, highly academic and unrivalled authority in its field. 

Not only a data analytics professional, Fiona is also an extremely articulate and truly professional writer, and I’ve no doubt, public speaker, too; it is difficult to disagree with her foreword’s writer that there is probably nobody better placed to write this book.  Her writing is flawless and elegant, her book highly professional and credibly sourced.  But, the real value of “Winning With Data” lies in its substance - Fiona leaves no stone unturned in suggesting ways in which data, metrics and demographics can combine.  Perhaps more importantly than this, though: she doesn’t just theorize, like most business guides, but advises thoroughly on how to implement your data strategy practically and technically, even down to the day-to-day practice – most business guide authors have the knowledge of the subject, but lack the experience to actually advise you how to use it; Fiona, on the other hand, has many, many years of hands-on experience, and is willing to share it.

I could go on writing about this book for much longer, but am conscious of the review’s word count.  Needless to say, this book is a superb business tool, and my advice is that if you are considering buying it, then you probably need it.  You certainly won’t regret it. 


In : Book Reviews 


Tags: fiona-green  data  crm  data-analytics  business  reference  non-fiction 
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