Don’t Rely on Last Year’s Metrics

In the age of big data, metrics are key — which in the meetings industry means you’re constantly scrutinizing information from your previous shows and applying it to your next show.

For sure, that data is invaluable when it comes to figuring out who your attendees are and what they like. But at what point do you become overly beholden to the past? How do you know when it’s time to ignore your history and trust your creative instincts?

A new study of pop-culture products such as movies and songs published in the Journal of Operations Management offers some possible answers. For the study, a team of researchers led by Matthias Seifert, a professor of quantitative methods at IE Business School in Madrid, examined “predictions about where pop singles would enter the Top 100 chart,” according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review. Specifically, the researchers considered factors such as “how does a music company weigh historical data (‘Taylor Swift’s previous album sold X copies’) against contextual data (‘We plan to spend Y marketing this album’) when evaluating upcoming releases?”

One of their findings, as reported by HBR: “We make better judgments about volatile demand when we consider only contextual data. Historical data seemed to impair the A&R [artists and repertoire] managers’ ability to interpret context.”

In other words, the previous years’ metrics are great when things are stable. But in a more unsure, tumultuous environment, don’t be afraid to live in the moment.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.