What is the half-life of your information?

January 31, 2014 by Jennifer Cobb

Could you be losing revenue by ignoring this simple question?

The notion of information having a half-life was coined in 1960 by two social theorists, Burton and Keebler, to refer to the inevitable decay of scientific and technical literature.  The notion that theories go out of date isn’t surprising.  It is also not surprising to think about the information your organization collects and ask yourself – what is its half-life?  Answering this imagesquestion can help you and your team create an urgency metric for prioritizing the information you need to capture, whether it is legacy data or information that is part of your ongoing business workflow.

Let’s start with three key points:

  1.  Data decays over time – a great example of this is sales leads.  If someone indicates interest in your product and solution, and you get back to them right away, the chances of closing the deal are much higher.  According to InsideSales.com, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
  2.  The value of data decays at different rates – Some data decays very slowly, and other data decays overnight.  For example, information about people that are interested in Christmas specials drops suddenly on December 26th while public health information about infant mortality will endure for many years.
  3. Different factors impact the rate of decay – To the extent that your products and services are tied to macro conditions in the market –such as interest rates or competitive products – you may find that the value of your information decays differently.  You may also find that the rate of decay is highly subjective.  What seems evergreen to your manufacturing team may feel quickly out of date to your sales and marketing organization.

No organization can capture all the data they generate. And even if they could, it would be difficult to manage and govern.  How do you go about creating a schema that helps you prioritize your data based on what matters to your organization?

Developing Data Metrics

One way to determine what data are most important to capture quickly and accurately is to rate your data by three simple criteria.  When you find data that rank high in all three variables, then Captricity offers an excellent solution for your needs.

 Data Usefulness Value
Extremely Useful 4
Very Useful 3
Somewhat Useful 2
Not Useful 1


Data Quality Value
High Quality 4
Medium Quality 3
Low Quality 2
Uncertain Quality 1


Timeliness Value
Very Timely 4
Timely 3
Somewhat Timely 2
Not Timely 1

Let’s take two examples.  In case one, your company has been at a community event and gathered contact information for hundreds of potential customers.  These potential leads would score high on two factors – extremely useful (4) and timeliness (4).  Quality could be a bit variable, so let's give that a (3). Add it up and these leads score an 11 on a scale of 12.

Now let’s look at customer feedback cards.  This information is highly useful (4) and when people take the time to tell you how they feel, is generally high quality (4).  But your product team is happy to see this information aggregated in a monthly report, so it is less timely (3).  Again, this information scores 11 on a scale of 12, but for slightly different reasons.

What information do you have that is useful, timely and high quality?  If any of that information is trapped in static documents, then Captricity offers a great solution.  Click here to learn more.  We look forward to helping you!

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