Curation Technology Checklist: How To Move From Information Overload To Actionable Insight

Marketers today don't suffer from a lack of data -- instead, they're overwhelmed. Columnist Chuck Sharp advises how to tame the information beast.

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Using data to make better decisions is a no-brainer. In theory, technology can help you get the right info at your fingertips, enabling you to make better decisions and dominate your space.

But putting that into practice is more difficult than you might think.

Most marketers live in a world of data overload in which available information is simply overwhelming.

The situation has become so overwhelming that many people have just given up. According to a 2014 CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University, only 33 percent of marketing projects leverage data and content to make better decisions.

Cmo Survey Data1

And of course, the problem isn’t just too much data. There’s also the matter of having the right tools to actually act on data.

To that end, I love this diagram by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. He captures what needs to happen to turn data in something actionable.

The step of connecting singular pieces of information into something useful takes time and background knowledge. Unfortunately, marketers often lack both.

So how can your organization improve?

I’ve learned that machines are fast but stupid and people are slow but brilliant. Technology can combine data sources, find somewhat relevant content and make it available to people, but it requires people to make that information meaningful.

People are the ones who make recommendations on next steps and create the illogical connections between information to make it actionable for the current business situation.

People are the answer! Yes, real-live humans with emotions and faults… people with their illogical opinions and aspirations. People totally suck and are awesome at the same time.


Brands need to provide tools necessary for marketing departments to easily transform raw data or content into actual insights to drive business. Adding a curation platform to your toolbox is one way to enable that.

Curation Technology

Curation software allows people to add their insight to information. When I see a chart or article sent to me by a colleague, I want to know why they sent it and what they think about it.

I value their opinion, and I want to hear it.

Curation software allows people to pick the right information, add their insight and share it with people who need it.


Curation Technology Checklist

  1. Enable Social Collaboration – The software should enable participation from a larger community of internal folks and agencies. The software should allow others to “like” and “comment” on the content being curated.
  2. Add Your Own Insight – Provides an easy way for you and your team to add your own insight to the data or content. It should be designed in a way that makes it obvious what comments are yours and what is coming directly from the source.
  3. Be Easy To Use – Getting people to change their behavior and use new software is difficult. It’s impossible if the software is complicated and ugly. Software must be intuitive and something your people will want to share with others.
  4. Makes Knowledge Portable – Only about 15% of people log into dashboards, so it’s important that the content being curated can be shared through many channels. The software must push content through email, create Word or PPT slides, integrate with SharePoint, create dynamic RSS feeds and have an open API so the data can be easily ported to other applications.
  5. Easily Pull Data In From Other Sources – Your people will want to curate information from internal dashboarding systems and tools like Adobe. You want a curation technology that can easily pull from these sources. Your people will also want to pull from qualitative sources like blogs, Facebook and Twitter and search engines.
  6. Different User Roles – Think of your curation technology as a newsroom at a newspaper. Writers produce the content and Editors have the ability to decide where and when to publish it. Your curation technology should have the same user access levels and controls. You might also want to provide your audience with a login into the system. You will want to provide them with a view of the system with content and functionality that has been approved for them to see.
  7. Email Newsletter Capability – The solution should make it easy to create, send and track email newsletters. You will want the ability to both send through the curation technology email tool or send an email from another email tool like MailChimp. On the backend you will want to be able to see who opens your emails and what they click on. This will help you curate better content in the future.
  8. Enable Storytelling – Finally, your curation technology should allow your people to bring disparate pieces of content together into a cohesive story. At the end of the day, you use curation technology to help craft reports, newsletters and presentations that get your point across and have proof to back up your position.

Technology vendors in this space include Right Intel, and Curata. (Full disclosure: I’m the founder and CEO of Right Intel).

Getting out of information overload isn’t easy, but if you make it a priority in 2015 it will be sure to pay dividends.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Chuck Sharp
Chuck Sharp is the CEO and founder of Right Intel, a marketing intelligence software company. He is a frequent guest speaker at Northwestern University and is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah.

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