By Jennifer Marley

Think back to the not too distant past … we used to wish ‘if only we had the data’ we could ‘do this’, ‘decide that’ or ‘invest here’. Now that we have pretty much what we wished for, what are we seeing? People, in general, are relying on, and loving, all our consumer tools that leverage data. For example:

  • Waze (a personal favourite) allows us to avoid traffic and tickets
  • TripCase stores and organizes my travel details
  • Garmin Connect gives access to all my performance stats and maps while biking
  • Siri and Alexa make tasking easier by leveraging our own data and preferences
  • The Weather Network has replaced the need to pack everything

And the list goes on. There are as many ways today to leverage data as there are people.

But what happens when we forward the movie? Do we have too much reliance on data? I believe that the answer to that question is yes! Here’s why:

  • Data relies on one thing above all else. Power. Electrical power.
  • Data is one of the things fueling global warming. Facebook and Google use more energy than some countries. Read more in The Atlantic on the environmental impact of computer server farms. And cryptocurrency is only making things worse.
  • Global warming leads to weird and massive weather events.
  • Weather events could knock our power out. Then…no data….a world of black.

What happens then? Have we forgotten how to read maps? How will we find our way when we’re somewhere we’ve never been before? Our kids can’t write cursive. What happens when keyboards aren’t functional and typing can’t happen? Via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and more, our connections with people are digital. What happens when we can’t contact each other? Farming relies on data to run the farm equipment. What happens to our food supply?

So what can we do? As a marketer, this one is hard. We are paid to help our clients successfully grow their business and sell more, not less. But more is not always better. As responsible and respectful members of society, we must find a way to do better. We must embrace sustainable energy despite potential impacts to Canada’s growth. As people, we must find a way to question everything we consume including data. Do we really need this? Is it making our lives much richer? Can we employ the Marie Kondo’s style of tidying up to both our personal lives and our business lives?

As marketers, we are the creative and innovative thinkers in society. We must push harder, think bigger, and think better. We need to push for brand and retail innovation, and disrupt existing business strategies. Are you ready?