Accessing Datasets to Determine Your Marketing Strategy

What is a dataset?

A ‘dataset’ is a file that contains one or more records. The record is the basic unit of information used by a program running on z/OS. Any named group of records is called a dataset.

Datasets contain information such as medical records, banking details, or personnel records, which are used by a program running on the system. Datasets are also used to store information needed by applications or the operating system itself, such as source programs, macro libraries, or system variables or parameters.

Datasets that contain readable text can be printed or displayed on a console.

Datasets can be catalogued, meaning that the dataset can be referred to by name and a user can find the information without specifying where it is stored.

The records in a dataset can be organized in various ways, depending on how a user wants to access the information. For example, a program that processes personnel records can be written to define a record format for each person’s data making access to the records easy and efficient.

There are three main types of datasets:


Records in a sequential dataset are data items that are stored consecutively. To retrieve the 10th item in the dataset, for example, the system must first pass the preceding 9 items. This dataset is best used for storing things like an alphabetical list of names of business personnel.

Partitioned (PDS)

A partitioned dataset consists of a directory and members. The directory holds the address of each member making it possible for programs or the operating system to access each member directly. However, each member consists of sequentially stored records. Partitioned datasets are often called libraries. Programs are stored as members of partitioned datasets. Generally, the operating system loads the members of a PDS into storage sequentially, but it can access members directly when selecting a program for execution.

Virtual Storage Access Method (VSAM)

VSAM key-sequenced datasets (KSDS) are data items that are stored with control information (keys) so that the system can retrieve an item without searching all preceding items in the dataset. VSAM KSDS datasets are ideal for data items that are used frequently and in an unpredictable order.

Dataset Use in Marketing

These three main types of data that are gathered by computers contain useful information for marketing research.

Data mining is the term used to describe the process of taking this raw information and turning it into something useful. While primary and secondary market research has always been used by businesses to learn more about their target audience and predict responses, technology has shifted the volume of quantitative and qualitative data at the disposal of businesses.

Secondary market research has four main sources:

Competitor Benchmarks

One of the most valuable, practical, and widely used sources of secondary marketing research data is Competitor Benchmarking. Benchmarking measures specific growth metrics or key performance indicators and compares them with other businesses in the industry. Because the fiscal information of businesses is public information, it is effective data to be used to determine ways to lower costs or improve operations for a business. With the right algorithms, this information is a reliable and cost-effective resource for business wanting to know how to compete in their industry.

Sales Data

Sales data is an internal resource that can help a business assess its profitability, segment its customers, uncover market trends and compare sales data with competitors when such information is available. As a reliable and easily accessible resource, sales data can help form the foundation of a good marketing strategy.

Government Publications and Statistics

Countless legal publications, government-created data sources, and statistics are published by many governments worldwide and allow open access to such information. A national census can provide precise national demographic data. Patents can act as previews of industry trends and innovations. Statistics from the World Bank and other international organisations can provide valuable insights. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look and determining what information is relevant to your business goals.

Commercial Data

Businesses are able to purchase commercial data from established market research corporations. Such organisations specialize in generating and selling accurate data for secondary market research purposes. These data can include precise market demographics, tactical insights related to B2B operations, and industry-specific data that can be used to guide upcoming initiatives. The data has already been refined into an accessible form and can be written to suit a business and its goals for a fee.

Value of Data

Secondary market research is a great place to start when researching a business strategy. It is cost-effective and can be outsourced, saving your marketing team valuable time and resources. This data, that has been refined and presented as readable text rather than raw data, is often used by businesses prior to commissioning work for primary data research, which includes collecting new and specific information pertaining to the business, such as the development of a new product.

Secondary market research can help a business to understand the big picture before investing in a refined analysis of a market segment or direction and should form the foundation of any sound marketing strategy.


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